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Columbus police helicopter spells 'CPD' in between calls during flight

In between calls, Columbus Deputy Chief Gregory Bodker said the pilot flew the "CPD" pattern when later viewed on a flight-tracking website.

A Columbus Division of Police helicopter pilot spelled out "CPD" in-between runs early Saturday morning, according to police.

The website FlightAware.com shows the route that the helicopter flew between 12:03 a.m. and 1:36 a.m.

The helicopter, with the tail number N551CP, is owned by the city of Columbus, according to the website.

Columbus Deputy Chief Gregory Bodker said the helicopter took off for a scheduled flight.

The pilot navigated through the city while responding to several high-priority runs, including a stabbing and assault, according to Bodker.

In between the calls, Bodker said the pilot flew the "CPD" pattern when later viewed on the flight-tracking website.

Credit: Flight Aware
A screengrab from Flight Aware showing the track of the Columbus Division of Police helicopter on the morning of April 17, 2021.

Columbus City Council members Elizbeth Brown and Rob Dorans voiced their frustrations on Twitter.

Councilmember Brown tweeted "I'm beyond frustrated. Last summer I proposed decreasing our helicopter fleet by one — to save dollars and reinvest in community-based safety strategies. But I was told how essential our current size is, and my measure failed. Let's be clear: a joyride is not essential work."

Councilmember Dorans echoed her sentiments saying "this joyride was just plain dumb and a waste of taxpayer dollars."

Bodker said no calls for service were missed while the pilot spelled out the pattern and took less than 10 minutes.

However, Bodker said even the appearance that officers are not operating within the mission of the aviation section is not acceptable.

Commander Robert Sagle, who oversees the aviation section, is reviewing the flight pattern and details of the flight.

Police helicopters were set to cost taxpayers $3.4 million in the proposed 2021 budget.

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