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How effective are police helicopters at fighting crime?




Tactical officer Greg MacDonald points his pilot Kevin Cook toward a spot to check as calls come in from LAPD dispatch.
Tactical officer Greg MacDonald points his pilot Kevin Cook toward a spot to check as calls come in from LAPD dispatch.
Grant Slater/KPCC
Tactical officer Greg MacDonald points his pilot Kevin Cook toward a spot to check as calls come in from LAPD dispatch.
An LAPD helicopter flies toward Downtown Los Angeles on December 19, 2012.
Grant Slater/KPCC
Tactical officer Greg MacDonald points his pilot Kevin Cook toward a spot to check as calls come in from LAPD dispatch.
Los Angeles police office Greg MacDonald surveys the streets of West Hollywood during a call about a disturbance at a hospital below.
Grant Slater/KPCC
Tactical officer Greg MacDonald points his pilot Kevin Cook toward a spot to check as calls come in from LAPD dispatch.
The view towards Santa Monic from a shift with the Los Angeles Police Department's helicopter division.
Grant Slater/KPCC
Tactical officer Greg MacDonald points his pilot Kevin Cook toward a spot to check as calls come in from LAPD dispatch.
A police helicopter takes off from the Los Angeles Police Department helipad in Downtown. During the day, there is always one helicopter in the air patrolling the city skies.
Grant Slater/KPCC
Tactical officer Greg MacDonald points his pilot Kevin Cook toward a spot to check as calls come in from LAPD dispatch.
Lt. Phil Smith walks across the tarmac helicopter facility, the largest helicopter landing pad in the United States, on August 22.
Grant Slater/KPCC
Tactical officer Greg MacDonald points his pilot Kevin Cook toward a spot to check as calls come in from LAPD dispatch.
Lt. Phil Smith leads the helicopter division for the Los Angeles Police Department.
Grant Slater/KPCC


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The LAPD has the country's largest fleet of helicopters with 17, with a total cost of nearly $20 million a year. KPCC's Erika Aguilar spent time learning how the fleet operates, and looked through LAPD statistics to find out how effective the helicopters are in fighting crime. Read more here.

RELATED: See part 1 of Erika Aguilar's series on police helicopters in Los Angeles

RELATED: See part 2 of Erika Aguilar's series on police helicopters in Los Angeles

RELATED: View a slideshow of the LAPD's helicopter fleet on AudioVision