A Michigan State Police helicopter takes off from Gerald R. Ford International Airport. (April 4, 2013)
CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) -- If you've been wondering about the helicopter hovering over Grand Rapids the past few days-- as many people are who have contacted WZZM 13 have-- we now have an explanation.
It's a new patrol by the Michigan State Police. Troopers held a demonstration flight Thursday evening at Gerald R. Ford International Airport.
Their regular patrols over the Grand Rapids area began Monday and will continue at least through June. Pilots will watch for traffic stops, reckless and drunk drivers, and missing people.
Lt. Chris McIntire, the Michigan State Police Rockford Post Commander says the flights are a response to a sharp rise in violent crime last December.
"Because of the things we've seen, we thought it more of a priority now to kind of step this up and get these folks over here flying so we can help our local partners out.
"Should somebody decide they don't want to stop or they want to cause problems, we're already pointed in that direction and already overhead," says Sgt. Jerry King, a MSP pilot.
Helicopters will fly patrols in the afternoons and evenings, two to three days a week. The flights are paid for by the state police general fund.