From Saskatoon StarPhoenix, November 17th, 2017
On Thursday, a report tabled at the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners detailed how the Saskatoon Police Service is asking city council for $800,000 to purchase a new plane for its air support unit. The service’s lease on its current unit, a Cessna 182, is set to expire in March 2018.
While a full breakdown of cost savings was not included in the report, savings to the Saskatoon taxpayer are estimated at $945,000 over the next 10 years.
“We want to be good stewards of the taxpayer’s money,” said Darlene Brander, chair of the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners.
“When we see efforts being made by the Saskatoon Police Service to ensure that they are investing with the future in mind — and wisely — we want to make sure that we support that.”
The police service examined the possibility of extending the existing lease, issuing a request for proposals for a new aircraft lease or issuing proposals for an aircraft purchase. It determined the “clear course of action” is to purchase a plane, choosing the Cessna 182T, which is almost identical to its current leased model.
Working with the City of Saskatoon purchasing department, the SPS will issue a number of proposals, including, but not limited to, the purchase of the plane, the rental of a secure hangar, office space and the establishment of a maintenance contract alongside a fuel purchasing contract.
The report indicated the air support unit has had a positive impact on policing in Saskatoon. When the air support unit is in the air during an evade police event, for example, police have a success rate of almost 100 per cent in stopping the vehicle of interest and laying charges. That compares to a success rate of 23 per cent when the plane is not in the air because 77 per cent of the time, pursuits are terminated due to safety concerns.
Interim chief of police Mark Chatterbok said the SPS selected an “almost identical” model of plane because it will allow the police service to retrofit its current equipment for the new aircraft.
“One of the things we’re constantly doing is we’re trying to find new and unique ways to deliver our service for less money,” he said.
The report has been relayed to city council for discussion and, if approved, the new plane could be fully operational in the third quarter of 2018.
—By Morgan Modjeski, Saskatoon StarPhoenix