Petition launched to bring back Eagle

The Eagle helicopter. Photo: NZ Police
The Eagle helicopter. Photo: NZ Police
A Christchurch community board member is calling for the police Eagle helicopter to return to the skies above the city.

Halswell-Hornby-Riccarton Community Board member Mark Peters started a petition this week calling for the helicopter to be brought back to the city to assist police in fighting crime.

As of Friday, 710 people had signed the petition.

"It is certainly something that is sorely needed in this current environment to try give police the upper hand," Mr Peters said.

His petition read: "Time for the police to have this valuable tool back to improve safety and reduce crime in Christchurch.

"Give the police a serious chance against the criminal element in the community."

It comes as the five-week trial of the helicopter was completed in Christchurch last month, just days before New Zealand went into level 4 lockdown.

When the trial finished, the helicopter, along with staff which worked with it, went back to Auckland.

By week four of the trial there had been 305 jobs the Eagle had attended with 210 apprehensions or people found.

The helicopter has received support from the western suburbs in the past.

Last month, an online survey on the Greater Hornby Residents’ Association Facebook page found out of 512 people, 91 per cent were in support of the Eagle becoming a permanent fixture, while nine per cent were against.

Canterbury District Commander Superintendent John Price said there would be a full evaluation into the Eagle trial, which would be considered by police for any potential future expanded deployment.

Mark Peters.  Photo: Supplied
Mark Peters. Photo: Supplied
Mr Peters said people were starting to feel insecure since the helicopter left and he hopes the issue would be given urgency given the lockdown situation the country is in.

But Superintendent Price said he couldn't give a timeline on when the full evaluation would be available because of the focus on the response to Covid-19.

He said any tool that helped people stay safe was good.

"If the evaluation tells me it is a good asset for Canterbury and keeps Cantabrians safe then I would support it."

Superintendent Price said the lockdown had created a decrease in crime but there had been two fatalities on Canterbury's roads.

John Price.  Photo: Supplied
John Price. Photo: Supplied
He referred to two fatal crashes this week, including a crash in North Canterbury that killed a cyclist on Thursday.

"Our message is very clear that at the end of the day we want people to be safe and feel safe - we need people to abide by the rules that are there for people to travel on our roads.

"Watch your speed, wear your restraints, don't be impaired as you are driving, don't get distracted," Superintendent Price said.

Mr Peters said he was "blown away" by the response to his petition and hopes to present it to police.

Sign the petition here.

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