The Regina Police Service (RPS) is introducing another tool to help its frontline officers; however, this tool will be in the sky.
A part of its 2022 budget, RPS is set to purchase an Aerial Support Unit for $1.2 million, with the City of Regina paying $275,000 of that price tag.
Police Chief Evan Bray said he feels this unit will have a lot of benefits.
“Having an air support unit is going to give us the ability to really have a better eye on the situation that is unfolding in our community,” he said. “There are lots of different ways that can be a benefit when we’re responding to in-progress crimes. That air support unit and the technology that is onboard allows us to within seconds have eyes on the situation that is unfolding.”
“Whether it is an assault and someone fleeing from a house, whether its a robbery that just unfolded and people are driving away in a car, being able to get eyes on that scene quickly, often results in holding that offender accountable and preventing future events from happening future incidents, crimes, victimization from happening because we hold the offender accountable that night, further things can’t happen,” he added.
Bray said it also will help with locating vulnerable people.
“Our friends to the north, the Saskatoon Police Service, have had an aerial unit since 2009. In this year along, they’ve been able to help 23 vulnerable people that gone missing or that have wandered away,” he said. “They are older people with dementia, people that suffer from mental health or addiction issues, or they are youth.”
The unit will see six members apart of it, with two people in the plane. Bray notes that if the weather conditions don’t allow the plane to be in the air, those officers will be working on the street instead.
As for when the unit will debut, Bray said he is hopeful for the second half of 2022.
“There is a lot of work we weren’t able to do until we get the approval from council to go ahead with this. We put together a business case on it, but securing hanger space, finding a place, getting it outfitted with the equipment, all of that we are going to have to put some robust policies into place,” he said. “There may be some training we need to do; all of that stuff is going to take some time. I can tell you there’s going to be some excitement to get going on this, and I hope that the first half of the year will be really laying the groundwork for that.”
Bray added that he understands the public concerns and criticism but does believe it will lead to Queen City and its residents being safer.