This twin-engine police helicopter experienced “tail rotor failure in the hover whilst observing the scene below” in the Whitchurch neighbourhood of Cardiff, South Wales, in April 2000. official report
Stop the Choppers is a Toronto citizens' group. Join us in our efforts to keep Toronto free of police helicopters.
Our volunteer group has worked with few resources to oppose the purchase and donation of police helicopters in Toronto since 2000. We find no need for the purchase of police helicopters due to their noise, surveillance, expense and lack of demonstrated usefulness in crime situations.
Contact our group. We make deputations at the Toronto Police Services Board, engage in media outreach and distribute pamphlets to educate other Toronto residents. Visit our links to learn more about police helicopters.
Police helicopters play no role in the prevention of crime. Toronto, with its very low crime rate and largely peaceful citizenry does not need such militaristic forms of policing. Nor can our provincial or city budgets bear the expense of one police helicopter, which would cost $1.5 million minimum a year just to operate. Toronto Police envision at least two or more helicopters in the sky most of the time.
During the six-month police helicopter pilot project, Stop the Choppers had many calls and emails from desperate residents who were routinely woken up at night due to the noisy helicopter hovering over their homes. The U.S. Natural Resources Defense Council's 1999 study, Needless Noise, points out that helicopters hovering over residential neighbourhoods pose a health hazard. The Toronto Board of Health's 2000 study, Noise and Health, documents the growing research showing unwanted noise is an increasing factor in physical and mental illness.
Helicopters make many residents feel unsafe, as they hover over once quiet neighbourhoods. Furthermore, helicopters can only be used in fair weather; they proved useless in the attacks on the World Trade Center due to excessive smoke and wind.
The Toronto Police have owned a fixed wing aircraft for many years. This craft is useful for any duties which require airborne police work. If an emergency rescue is needed, a helicopter can be rented or borrowed from other jurisdictions including the RCMP, as is done by other major Canadian cities including Montreal and Vancouver.
City of Toronto Auditor Jeffrey Griffiths' 2001 study, The Evaluation of the Air Support Unit Pilot Project Toronto Police Service, found the helicopter was of no use in high-speed car chases and played no meaningful role in crime situations. Steven Herbert's well known study of the Los Angeles Police Department, Policing Space, shows the use of helicopters by the LAPD adds to the generally negative and hostile attitude officers have toward the communities they police. Helicopters are perceived on both sides as a quasi-military tool to 'occupy' a hostile territory.
Kathryn Asbury's 1997 study for the Toronto Police, The Use of Helicopters in Municipal Law Enforcement, points out that both Seattle, Washington and Washington, D.C. abandoned their police helicopter programs, the former due to catastrophic crashes and costs, and the latter due to financial concerns. Chicago, Illinois refuses to start a program due to concerns about extreme community disruption from anticipated nighttime noise.
“The police helicopter seems designed as an in-your-face sign of intimidation.” – John Sewell, Eye
A police helicopter in Nassau County,
New York demonstrating a low altitude pursuit.