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'Strong value': Regina police to officially launch Aerial Support Unit

The plane began patrolling over the city in the end of October. (Supplied: Regina Police Service) The plane began patrolling over the city in the end of October. (Supplied: Regina Police Service)
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The Regina Police Service (RPS) will be officially launching their Aerial Support Unit on Thursday morning.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, RPS Chief Evan Bray said their police plane has already proven to have a positive impact on public and officer safety in the community.

“I can tell you that number one, it has sped up the time it takes us to investigate and make an arrest, absolutely has reduced the amount of force that we use, exponentially, in three months. It’s been outstanding,” he said.

RPS had purchased the aircraft, a Cessna 182, in September, which began patrolling over the city by the end of October.

The launch will be held at 10 a.m. at the Kreos Aviation Hangar at 2550 Arrow Bay at the Regina International Airport.

“Deputy Chief Dean Ray will be leading the discussion at the launch on Thursday morning. He’s been our lead through this entire process, and so it’s been a big success for the citizens of Regina,” Bray said.

Bray said the plane has been very beneficial and community members are raving about the response times and the ability for RPS to hold people accountable.

“We’ve had people knocking on our doors from outside agencies, including recently talk with File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council, looking at signing a bit of an MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] to help with potential search and rescue efforts that’ll be happening,” he said

“I think there’s going to be strong value for the air support unit.”

Benefits of the unit include the ability to track down suspects more quickly and discreetly.

“What happens is, the driving behaviour of the subject, when they’re not being followed by a police car with the lights on, they tend to slow down, they tend to drive more normally and most times, they go to a destination,” Bray said.

“We’ve been able to arrest high-risk offenders in the community getting a coffee in the Tim Hortons drive-thru because it’s casual, they don’t know that they’re necessarily about to be arrested by the police.”

The cost of the airplane and associated instruments was said to be about $1.2 million but much of the cost was covered by the provincial Criminal Property Forfeiture Fund and SGI.

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