Public open house celebrates Helicopter Unit’s 50th anniversary

Publish Date 10/05/2017

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KCPD Media Unit


Fifty years ago, former Kansas City Missouri Police Chief Clarence Kelley authorized an aerial patrol squad, and on Saturday, the current KCPD Helicopter Unit will mark that anniversary with a rare public open house.

The open house will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 7 at the helipad/hangar, located at 4601 Eastern Ave. All three helicopters will be on display, along with flight demonstrations of the aircraft. Surviving founding members of the unit will be in attendance. Everyone is invited.

In November 1967, KCPD sent one sergeant and five officers to Long Beach, Calif., for flight training and purchased three Hughes 300B helicopters. After training, the officers flew the helicopters back to Kansas City.

The 1970 KCPD Annual Report proclaimed, “Police helicopters leap over surface traffic as though it were not present. They go where roads don’t; water barriers don’t deter them. The police helicopter is unparalleled as an observation platform.”

The three helicopters in today’s fleet were purchased in 2012 at the cost of about $8.6 million. They were custom-built to meet KCPD’s needs and were funded by the Public Safety Sales Tax, as well as federal grant and asset forfeiture funds. All of KCPD’s current pilots (and those through the history of the unit) have their FAA commercial rotorcraft pilot ratings.

As the only law enforcement agency in the Kansas City metropolitan area with helicopters, KCPD choppers frequently assist agencies around the region in the prevention of crime and disorder, apprehension of criminals and location of missing persons. The helicopter crew continuously monitors police radio frequencies and responds to those calls for service most likely to assist officers on the ground. These include everything from pursuits to prowlers to fires.