The suspension of air operations is part of a budget solution to close the $110 million deficit facing the city. Continuing such a costly program while as many as 350 police officers faced layoffs would be difficult to justify.
However, the grounding is currently scheduled to last three months, to allow the department to evaluate the actual savings.
From the San Jose Mercury News:
In the face of massive budget cuts and officer layoffs, San Jose police have mothballed the use of a helicopter they have flown for years to find fleeing criminals and missing people.
The San Jose Police Department says it will suspend its flights for at least three months to evaluate cost savings and public safety impact. The chopper, which routinely flies about three missions a day, costs the department about $1.4 million a year, mostly in salary and benefits for the pilots. True savings would be about $400,000 in fuel and maintenance.
The department has transferred the four designated pilots to patrol.
Read the full article here.