ROCKFORD, Mich. (WZZM) - It's been a month since Michigan State Police started helicopter patrols in West Michigan, but troopers are not getting the positive feedback they hoped for from the community.
Troopers are hearing some negative comments, and WZZM is hearing them too. The WZZM 13 Information Center has taken many calls from people complaining about the noise, many saying they don't like how close they are getting to their homes.
F/Lt. Chris McIntire is addressing those concerns: "It's going to become a little more normal for those that don't like it here right now."
The schedule has been tight for Michigan State Police helicopters in their first month in the area. "It's been in the downtown Grand Rapids area so much lately because of the flooding primarily, and it's caused us to fly a lot lower than we normally would fly."
Along with recent missing persons cases, McIntire has had to keep the chopper closer to downtown Grand Rapids; already using it to catch a few criminals.
"A couple of people have run from vehicle stops, and because the helicopter was there, they were able to lock that down."
McIntire has been working with other West Michigan jurisdictions; hoping to have the helicopter make some of its trips over other areas. Muskegon and Muskegon Heights are where he wants to send the chopper next, "with the hope of someday getting something more full-time here in West Michigan, versus part-time."
Right now, there are only two state police helicopters shared across the entire state. McIntire says more pilots are being trained, and they are always hoping to add to the unit.