By Dan Bewley And Terry Hood, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- One of Tulsa's Police helicopters is back in service. Mayor Dewey Bartlett gave the go-ahead to put one of the choppers back in the skies after the City Council added money to fund it to the budget.
The Chief of Police Chuck Jordan says he would like to see both flying again.
Bartlett grounded the two helicopters last October when the city made massive budget cuts. But Friday night at 7 p.m., one chopper will be patrolling the skies again.
For the last nine months, the pilots and crew were grounded and forced into other roles in the police department.
"I've talked to several citizens when I was out in the field working, and they talked about how they missed the helicopter - and the sound made them feel more secure, said Officer Tim Ward, helicopter pilot.
TPD has two helicopters. Both are equipped with special cameras that allow them to track suspects even in the dark of night.
Thursday morning the mayor formally announced one of the helicopters would go back in service. The move comes after the city council found money left over from last fiscal year.
So far, it's the only item for which the mayor has decided to spend the surplus money.
"I am a department head so I asked for two," said Tulsa Chief of Police Chuck Jordan. "But by the same token, I think this is probably a reasonable way to evaluate where we're at, to see where we're at with money and hopefully we can get two in the air eventually."
As for the men behind the controls, they're thrilled to be back in a job they love and can't wait to keep watch over Tulsa.
"We're just happy to be going back to what we know we can do good and just thrilled that we're able to go do our jobs that we're trained to do," said Officer Tim Ward, pilot.
Mayor Bartlett says the helicopter will stay in service through at least the end of this fiscal year next summer. He says he's still considering whether to sell the other helicopter and replace it with a smaller, less expensive one.