A recent report released by the LA controller revealed that Los Angeles spends nearly $50m a year on its police helicopter program, or roughly $3,000 for every hour of flight, a finding that raises concerns about the financial and environmental impacts of the city’s aerial surveillance, Sam Levin reports for The Guardian.
The report suggests the use of LA police department (LAPD) helicopters is nearly constant across the city, and the majority of flight time is not in response to reports of major crimes, but instead for transportation, ceremonial trips or patrols. The flights are a major source of pollution and appear to disproportionately affect some communities of color. LAPD’s Air Support Division (ASD), which operates 17 helicopters and has more than 90 employees, costs the city an average of $46.6m a year, or $127,805 a day, more than the entire budgets of 14 other city departments. The helicopters burn an estimated 761,600 gallons of fuel yearly, releasing more than 7,400 metric tons of carbon dioxide, with an output equivalent to over 19m miles driven by gas-powered cars.