This month Michigan State Police helicopters began what will be regular patrols of the Grand Rapids area.
Lieutenant Chris McIntire commands the Rockford Post. He says the patrols come in response to a spike in murders and other violent crime in the past few months.
“Not just in Grand Rapids but all of western Michigan, the State Police has found it's probably a benefit to bring some of those resources over here, help to curb some of that crime,” McIntire said.
The state police have two helicopters. They fly regularly over Detroit, Flint, Saginaw and Pontiac; have for years. McIntire says those patrols will continue.
“We still have a responsibility for the whole state we’re just taking some of the time when the pilots may have been down and now we’re flying in Grand Rapids as well,” McIntire said.
Helicopters help mostly with traffic stops, car chases, and finding missing people.
“It’s going to help everybody be safer. From the feedback I’ve gotten from the local police departments here - they absolutely love it. It’s a tool they’ve never had in the past here and it’s working out very well,” McIntire said.
He says MSP and local police are analyzing data “so we’re out there when the crimes are happening.”
He says the patrols are also due, in part, to an extension of crime-fighting efforts discussed in February by U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles Jr.