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Glendale and Burbank police land new helicopter

Council members praise acquisition of unit, which will replace older model.

October 03, 2013|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com
  • Glendale Police Dept. helicopter officers look for a burglary suspect above and nearby Brand Park in Glendale on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012.
Glendale Police Dept. helicopter officers look for a… (Raul Roa / Staff…)

The Glendale and Burbank police departments are buying a new helicopter for close to $3 million to replace one with nearly 20 years of flight time in the cities' skies.

The MD-520N helicopter that is being replaced is the oldest unit of three shared between the cities, and will cost roughly $2.9 million. Glendale and Burbank will split the cost of the new helicopter.

City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the purchase of the new helicopter.

The aircraft meets the agencies' mission requirements and allows police to participate in specialized operations, according to Police Deputy Chief Carl Povilaitis.

The air unit, manufactured by MD Helicopters Inc., doesn't have a tail rotor, so it will make less noise when flying over the cities.

The joint air detail plans to retire its oldest helicopter and sell it for between $450,000 and $550,000, which will be used to offset the cost of the new unit, Povilaitis said.

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“This program has proven to be very effective for us,” he added.

The use of helicopters has come in handy when combating crime.

“It really works as a force multiplier,” Povilaitis said.

Helicopter pilots are often the first police presence to arrive at the scene and identify possible escape paths.

“It can replace 14 to 20 people on the ground,” Povilaitis said, adding that the helicopters help to shorten police response times.

During the council meeting, Councilman Frank Quintero said he had to call the police not long ago after he saw a crime being committed in his neighborhood.

Moments later, he saw a swarm of lights from patrol cars and the glow of a helicopter flying from Burbank toward his neighborhood. Soon after, the alleged suspects were detained, he said.

Quintero snapped his fingers and said, “It was like that.”

Councilman Zareh Sinanyan said he has had a similar experience.

“I believe it's a very good asset we have,” he added.

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Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.

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