The Los Angeles City Controller’s Office audited the LAPD’s use of helicopters and criticized the department for its use during “non-high priority” situations.

According to the audit, every flight incurs costs of $2,917 per hour of use, roughly adding up to $46 million per year, a total more than the budget of 14 city departments. The office concluded that 61% of helicopter use came in “non-high priority” crime and accused the department of disproportionately using them in some communities over others.

“Our city’s investments in public safety account for a significant portion of our annual discretionary budget,” Los Angeles City Controller Kenneth Mejia wrote in a letter to Mayor Karen Bass and the city council. “The audit was launched in response to calls from community members and organizations who requested more information regarding the costs and performance of LAPD helicopters.”

Mejia continued, stating that the LAPD Airlift Support Division (ASD) “causes significant harm to the community,” although the office did not expand on what communities were disproportionately affected, or how.

The office did include multiple examples of the uses deemed “non-high priority,” such as 783 ceremonial fly-bys and passenger shuttle flights. The audit also noted two helicopters collected 20 hours of usage per day, each logging more than 16,000 hours of flight time per year.

“At least some of the transportation and ceremonial flights were an inefficient or inappropriate use of City money as they provided little to no public safety benefit,” Mejia said.

The office notified city officials of the audit and suggested decreasing the helicopters’ “inefficient” usage and increasing data collection, transparency and management.
























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