For years leading up to 2009, Colorado Springs Police would occasionally hover over our neighborhood in a helicopter, leading my husband to call them "whirly snoops." Of course, police say the only people they were snooping for were criminals trying to elude the law. Other locals used a more pejorative, potentially offensive name for the copter itself: the "ghetto bird."
All along, though, the label that police have applied to such aerial support is "force multiplier." They contend that helicopters do the work of many cops by getting to a scene faster, and providing a superior vantage point from which to spot bad guys. That kind of argument appealed to many on the ground; even as some citizens complained about the "whop whop" noise, others liked knowing the cops had the upper hand.
A few years ago, with the city all but grounded by budget constraints, the air unit was disbanded, and the aging helicopters sold. Now, Police Chief Pete Carey is looking for a relaunch, which is explored in a story that begins here. But, as you might guess, it's a costly proposition, so police are simultaneously searching for partners.
They're also hoping to hook up with the state's Firefighting Air Corps research center, a planned initiative that local community leaders hope will land here. If all that happens — a big if — the police eye in the sky might again become more than just pie in the sky.