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Petition Started Against MSP Chopper In GR

Posted at 6:46 PM, May 20, 2013

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A FOX 17 story earlier this month took you on an exclusive look inside the Michigan State Police helicopter, West Michigan’s newest crime fighter. Now, there’s a petition demanding its removal.

“I was putting my daughter to bed, and she doesn’t have a curtain in her window, and the next thing I know, this big bright searchlight shining through her room,” said LaceyAnn Barker, who started the petition. “It freaked her out. I didn’t know what was going on.”

Barker lives off College Avenue in Grand Rapids. In about a month, more than 350 people have expressed support for the petition, and every day dozens more sign it.

“Flying at tree top-level disturbing the community, I thought it did more harm than good,” said Barker. Those who agree say the helicopter is loud, disruptive, and an invasion of privacy. And it’s not necessary. Barker says that, while she understands the need for more patrols, she doesn’t think patrols need to be done in this way.

“We’re not going to spin around people’s houses,” said MSP Sgt. Jerry King. “We’re not going to look to see what we can see. We’re busy helping officers on the ground, so that’s our primary mission.”

Equipped with night vision goggles and a Forward Looking Infrared device, MSP says these eyes in the sky are equivalent to 10 officers on the ground. But some in the community just don’t see it that way, and after living with it for weeks, they say enough is enough.

Another issue people have expressed on this petition is the feeling that tax-payer money is being wasted. But MSP says the chopper costs less than one patrol officer a year, around $50,000, and the funding comes out of the Michigan State Police’s general fund, which is already budgeted.