The Toledo (OH) Police Department is considering "getting out of the helicopter business" if it can't find grant money to cover the cost of an upcoming mandatory factory overhaul of its helicopter, Chief George Kral said.
The chief said he is looking for grant money for that $300,000 expense that will soon come due. Without such grant money, the police bird could be grounded, he said.
Toledo bought the Robinson R44 helicopter in 2001 for the department's aviation unit, which was organized that year. The chopper cost about $504,000 and has been used the past 15 years for surveillance, search and rescue, night patrols, to oversee chases, and in other emergency situations.
City spokesperson Janet Schroeder said the 15-year-old chopper may not be worth the $300,000 overhaul cost. "It flies once or twice a week," she said.
In addition, the agency's only remaining officer qualified to fly the helicopter plans to retire soon.
Oregon, OH, police chief Mike Navarre, who was chief of the Toledo department when the city bought the helicopter in 2001, said the helicopter has been a valuable tool for the department but he believes unmanned aircraft will be used by law enforcement in the future.