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Our say.

WE must shoot down any threats to our police helicopter.

Cleveland Police bosses are locked in talks with neighbouring forces over the future of the joint North East Air Support Unit.

And there are fears that the helicopter based at Durham Tees Valley Airport could be sacrificed, leaving only one - based at Newcastle - to serve the whole region.

This could have a disastrous impact on our policing capabilities.

We are a city region with serious crime issues, and we must fight any hint of downgrading such an important part of the police frontline armoury.

Quite apart from the time difficulties posed by siting the helicopter so far North, it would be a shared service. So it could well be engaged in crime-busting business in Newcastle or Northumberland when we need it down here.

If this second helicopter was considered so important in a 2004 assessment, what has changed?

It has proved its worth time after time - both in the fight against crime and in the way it has acted as a lifesaver to transport casualties from accidents.

It is an essential tool in 21st century policing. And it would be an appalling, backward, step to take it out of action.

We must do all in our power to keep our helicopter policing the skies above the Tees Valley.
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Title Annotation:Leaders
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Feb 25, 2008
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