Winnipeg police released a report Friday analyzing the performance of its AIR1 helicopter, with many of the conclusions supporting the use of the aircraft and the flight operations unit.
The report was put together by MNP, an accounting and business consulting firm, which collected data from police and citizens through interviews, telephone surveys, online surveys, document reviews, process mapping, direct observation and reviewing videos. The aim of the review was to help inform police whether funding and resources given to the unit align with public safety priorities and objectives.
The findings of the report are broken down into three categories: relevance, efficiency and performance, with many of the conclusions showing that the WPS and public support the use of AIR1.
The following are some of the main takeaways in the report:
- Police think AIR1 should be used more;
- The helicopter enhances citizen’s perception of safety;
- The demand for AIR1 can’t be accurately quantified;
- The organizational structure of the flight operations unit is well designed;
- The operational efficiency of police is enhanced by the helicopter;
- AIR1 saves times and resources, though there’s no data to quantitively prove it;
- The helicopter responds to incidents more quickly than ground patrols;
- During police pursuits, more arrests are made when AIR1 is involved;
- The helicopter helps find missing people faster, though there’s limited ability to prove this quantitively;
- The current helicopter restricts the activities of the flight operations unit;
- The helicopter is a good use of police funds;
- The flight operations unit should increase its capability and capacity.
The full report can be found online.
The AIR1 unit supports the police in its operations and investigations by responding to crimes in progress, tracking and surveillance of suspects, and lighting up crime scenes.
In a statement to CTV News, a spokesperson from Mayor Brian Bowman's office said Bowman support the use of AIR1 and the need to review the flight operations unit.
"Mayor Bowman expects this report will be factored into the Winnipeg Police Board's budget considerations as well as the planning currently underway for the Winnipeg Police Service's next five year strategic plan," it says.