- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 6, 2017

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A high-tech police helicopter that a Kentucky city official said could have provided crucial assistance was out of commission during a fatal Memorial Day shooting. A police official said it was unclear, however, whether the helicopter would have made any difference.

Louisville Metro police commander had asked for the assistance of the department’s Air Unit on May 29 after the shooting at Waterfront Park, The Courier-Journal reported (http://cjky.it/2syTovT). More than 30 officers responded to the gang-related shooting, which left one dead and three injured.

Councilman David James, a former narcotics detective with the police department, said the helicopter’s high-tech equipment, including night vision and heat-tracking devices, would have helped in the pursuit of suspects.

But police spokesman Dwight Mitchell said it was not clear whether the chopper would have provided any crucial help.

Police Chief Steve Conrad told the city council’s Public Safety Committee last month that he wanted another helicopter. Mayor Greg Fischer’s spokesman Chris Poynter said there wasn’t enough money in the budget to pay for a new helicopter, but he noted that 80 percent of new revenue in the spending plan was dedicated to public safety, The Courier-Journal reported.

The administration of former Mayor Jerry Abramson sold the police department’s second helicopter in 2008 during a budget shortfall, a move criticized by council members and the police union, but defended by police leaders.

The department was without a helicopter for more than a year while the remaining helicopter was refurbished. During that time, the city had an agreement for chopper use with the Kentucky Air National Guard and private helicopter owners. The newspaper said it was unclear whether that agreement still existed at the time of the shooting.

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Information from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com

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