Cops choked over chopper
(CNS): Only two weeks after the RCIPS announced that officers had been trained as first medical responders so the police helicopter could be used as an air ambulance, the police management are seeking urgent clarification from government about the future of the crime fighting machine. An RCIPS spokesperson said Thursday that there had been no discussion between the police and the government about the sale of the helicopter. The premier announced he would be selling the controversial chopper in order to save more than $1.7 million per year during his address to the nation on Wednesday regarding new taxes and spending cuts for his 2012/13 budget.
Bush said government had agreed with the expenditure review committee, which was set up to identify savings to the public purse, that the police helicopter should be sold as “it is simply unaffordable to this country”.
In the wake of the announcement the police said that the RCIPS had not been consulted about the impact of the helicopter’s loss to policing in the Cayman Islands.
“The sale of the police helicopter has not been discussed, nor has the impact of its loss been the subject of any input by the RCIPS,” a spokesperson stated. "The loss of the Air Operations Unit would have a considerable impact on our ability to maintain our current level of operational effectiveness. Equally it would negate the extension of its service as an air ambulance, which was so recently introduced. We are seeking urgent clarification from government on this matter.”
Less than two weeks ago Police Commissioner David Baines had described the chopper as transforming policing in the Cayman Islands and that there could be no doubt that the helicopter was an important resource, as he talked about how the RCIPS was learning more and more how it could best utilize the machine and ensure it provided value for money to the public purse.
Baines said it had proved an invaluable tool in the fight against serious crime, drug interdiction and had also saved lives. He said the helicopter was instrumental in apprehending one of the robbery suspects in the recent bank heist in Buckingham square and had helped police locate suspects on many other occasions.
The recent training of police officers to become medical responders is part of a larger project involving HSA staff which will see the helicopter utilized as an air ambulance.
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