After complaints, Grand Rapids copter patrols halt
Jul 21, 2015 at 12:39 PM
The decision to halt the patrols is less about noise complaints and more about greater needs in other parts of the state, said state police Lt. Chris McIntire.
McIntire said the patrols began to assist Grand Rapids police with anti-crime efforts after a jump in crime several months ago.
"Lately, the crime hasn't been that much," he said.
McInire said state police received several complaints from Grand Rapids residents after a three-hour patrol Saturday evening covering several neighborhoods.
"Is the good we're doing outweighing the complaints? It's a balancing act," he said.
City resident David Lubbers said he tried to host a dinner party for seven people on his back porch Saturday night, but a helicopter made it impossible to enjoy the evening. He said it was enough of an annoyance that he signed an online petition seeking to stop the patrols.
"It was getting to be so we could hardly talk. It was absurdly loud," Lubbers said. "It was like someone mowing the lawn underneath your window for three hours."
Grand Rapids police have said the helicopter patrols have been beneficial, particularly when police are searching for fleeing or armed suspects. But on Tuesday, Grand Rapids officials said they planned to ask state police to reduce some helicopter patrols.
The decision to use helicopter patrols had been in the works for some time, but a spike in violent crime at the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013 pushed it forward. The cost for patrols is part of the existing state police budget. Helicopters routinely patrol over Detroit, Flint and Saginaw.
Brian Kelly said the flyovers Saturday proved an annoyance and made residents wonder whether some type of crime was happening in the neighborhood. He has an 8-year-old daughter whose bedtime was disrupted, and he described the patrols as "disturbing the peace."
"It's stressful for the kids to hear them," Kelly said. "They have questions about why the helicopters are flying over."