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
Dear Toronto Police Services Board, September 25, 2002
Please STOP, and take a sober look at the facts before you commit yourself
on the issue of police helicopters. The decision to introduce or not
introduce police helicopters in Toronto is an extraordinarily important
one, with far-reaching implications.
NoiseWatch would like to remind you of the most pertinent studies
undertaken on helicopter service/noise and their conclusions.
· The 1997 Toronto Helicopter Report commissioned by the Toronto Police
Services Board concluded that police helicopters were not an essential
component of a police force.
· The 1999 Natural Resources Defence Council's study on helicopters
entitled "Needless Noise" concluded that helicopters hovering over
residential areas pose a health hazard.
· The 2000 Toronto Public Health Department "Noise and Health Report"
outlined all of the potential health hazards that excessive city noise
could have on Torontonians.
· The 2000 London Helicopter Report "The Eye in the Sky: Evaluation of the
Effectiveness of Helicopter Patrols in London, Ontario", the most
comprehensive North American police helicopter study to date, concluded
that police helicopters do not reduce crime.
· The 2001 Toronto Auditor's Six-month Air Support Unit Pilot Project
Report concluded that the police helicopters did not reduce crime.
The case for "enhanced operational effectiveness" (the only other valid
reason for introducing helicopters) received some support in both the
London (2000) and Toronto (2001) reports, however the evidence was heavily
After studying the 2000 London Helicopter Report with its startling
conclusions, London city council decided not to introduce police
helicopters in London.
The costs (financial, environmental, health) far outweighed the potential
Other notable major North American cities such as Chicago, Washington,
Boston and Seattle also have concluded that police helicopters are not needed.
In a recent radio interview Chair Norman Gardner was quoted saying that
"most major North American cities have police helicopters". This may be
true but at what cost? And what exactly is being gained in these cities?
The key question though is "Are these cities any safer than those without
police helicopters?" No they are not! The freshest and most exhaustive
studies have shown that police helicopters do not reduce crime.
So the question that begs to be asked is "If police helicopters do not make
cities any safer, why are they needed, especially in light of the extremely
high cost of maintenance and additional costs associated with training and
If airborne surveillance is important in an emergency situation then a
fixed-wing aircraft would be far more suitable in terms of overall cost,
fuel efficiency, staying power, detectability, and noise footprint.
In times of catastrophe or exceptional emergency helicopters may be
shared/borrowed from the O.P.P. and other municipal neighbours.
In conclusion, Torontonians would not be any safer with police helicopters.
Rather, they would lose a degree of their privacy, lose countless nights of
sleep, compromise their health, and lose a substantial sum of money each
year. This 'lost' money could put more than 20 additional police officers
on the street where it's proven that crime can be deterred.
“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.