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Source: New Zealand Government

A trial deployment of the Police Eagle helicopter in Christchurch will test whether the aircraft would make a significant difference to crime prevention and community safety.

“The Bell 429 helicopter will be based in Christchurch for five weeks, from 17 February to 20 March,” said Police Minister Stuart Nash.

“The ability for Police to have an ‘eye in the sky’ can make a real difference to public safety. From their vantage point the crew can co-ordinate operations on the ground, especially where offenders are still at the scene of an incident.

“More than half of the 6,000 callouts for Eagle helicopters each year involve road policing. Other work sees the crew support officers on the ground executing search warrants, Armed Offender Squad callouts, and search and rescue operations.

“Eagle also has the ability to deliver medical support. In May last year it landed on Auckland’s motorway to provide immediate first aid to a road accident victim.

“Police first established a dedicated Air Support Unit in Auckland in 1988. In July last year a new contract saw the fleet expand to three helicopters and shift its Auckland base from Mechanics Bay to Onehunga.

“The Eagle helicopters are available 24/7 in the upper North Island and are deployed to other parts of the country when the need arises. An Eagle helicopter was deployed to Christchurch following the 15 March terror attack and during the visit of Prince William.

“The Eagle trial in Christchurch will involve a helicopter and crew normally based in Auckland, and costs will be met from within the existing Police budget. Following the trial a full evaluation will be carried out before any decisions are taken on next steps.

“Police are continually assessing and trialling initiatives to determine what different communities may need to keep them safe.

“We now have the largest Police workforce in New Zealand history. We will soon reach a milestone of 2,000 new officers deployed since the Coalition Government took office.

“As the true government of law and order we are supporting this record number of Police on the frontline with the tools, resources and legislation they need to do their job more effectively,” Mr Nash said.