GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.– The mayor of Grand Rapids, George Heartwell says “it has become a source of concern for citizens, I’m one of those citizens who has been kept well awake into the early morning hours.” He goes on to say it gives a false perception that the city isnt safe. The MSP helicopter has been buzzing around Grand Rapids for weeks. Monday we showed you some folks started an online petition to ground it, saying it was an annoying violation of privacy and now the mayor has joined the critics.
“The inconvenience, the noise the spotlight the kind of activities that are disruptive to peaceful neighborhoods” said Heartwell. While MSP says the chopper has helped as a deterrent; some in the city have expressed concerns, a petition against it growing with signatures daily.
During a Grand Rapids council meeting Monday morning, the Mayor said he was going to ask MSP to limit their aerial response after getting so many calls from citizens. Michigan State police says it’s not that they will no longer be in the city, they just won’t be doing routine patrols instead they’ll be used when asked by the city for help.
MSP says it’s not making the changes because of complaints, it’s just time to re-evaluate where resources are needed. MSP says it slotted fly time for the city of Grand Rapids for the month of April, May and just into June.
“This was a pilot project from our department to bring some aviation units and patrols to Western Michigan. We just reached out to Grand Rapids because of the violence they had in the early winter months but also cause they’re the biggest department, so we could look at some of the trends they were having, some of the needs they were having” said Lt. Chris McIntyre of the Rockford Post.
Now it’s time to analyze that data and determine where the chopper can best be utilized next. “Their kind of looking at that evidence based policing that they have to help them deploy the helicopter and all of our resources in the right places so their kind of re-writing a script if you will right now” said Lt. McIntyre.
MSP says one of the hot spots it’s looking at, possibly Muskegon Heights. “Muskegon heights area has enough crime to require state police and some of the local jurisdictions to come in and give them a hand during the summer time because they’re so short-staffed. So we’re focusing our efforts right now on how were going to help Muskegon Heights police department combat some crime this summer.”
But most importantly MSP wants people to remember what this asset is really about.
“Ensuring that if something major were to happen we have that “eye in the sky” we can get down and help the officers on the ground put somebody in jail and take care of the threat a lot quicker. It’s also for the safety of the police officers down there.”