In January 2004, the Cleveland Police Aviation Unit was deactivated as a result of budget reductions and the helicopters were placed into storage. Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath and I worked hard to re-establish the operational capabilities of the unit, and in 2007 the unit resumed limited operations in the city of Cleveland.
The Police Aviation Unit however does not now, nor has it ever, operated ‘around-the-clock.’ Operational, maintenance and staffing limitations limit the number of hours that the helicopters can be in the air and on patrol.
When our helicopters are operational, they provide an important element for our community and intelligence-led policing efforts. They are an productive crime-fighting tool and one that can be used effectively for aerial surveillance, searches for missing persons, and during high-speed police pursuits.
The value of the Cleveland Police Aviation Unit extends far beyond the borders of the city of Cleveland. As such, the Cleveland Division of Police often provides support, free of charge, to other regional law enforcement agencies. We know from years of experience that the support provided by the Cleveland Police Aviation Unit is extremely valuable not just to Cleveland, but throughout our region.
I believe that the Police Aviation Unit – like the Marine Patrol Unit – can and should be supported by our regional partners in an effort to sustain and extend our capabilities. While there is a great deal that must be discussed, regionalizing our law enforcement aviation capacity is a viable option that deserves consideration.
-Director Martin L. Flask, Cleveland Department of Public Safety