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KCPD Helicopter Unit celebrating 50 years

Posted: 3:26 PM, Oct 16, 2017
Updated: 2017-10-16 17:41:16-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- They leap over traffic, go where roads don’t, and water barriers aren’t a problem.  They're one of the many reasons there’s no running from the law in Kansas City.  In November, the KCPD Helicopter Unit turns 50. 

Sgt. Sean Cutburth is one of the officers tasked with patrolling in the skies.  After 17 years in an office on the ground, he joined the aerial unit. 

“A lot of people have a job they hate going to and dislike, and the two funnest jobs I can imagine dong as a kid; I’m doing both right now,” he said.

The helicopter unit assists several metro agencies with anything from pursuits to prowlers to fires. 

In the old days, the cavalry was revered because soldiers had the advantage of greater height, speed, and awareness.  The helicopter unit is KCPD's cavalry. 

“That’s how a lot of officers look at it when they call for help from the helicopter.  Once you hear it coming in, it’s a sound of relief, like thank goodness, the cavalry has arrived,” Cutburth told 41 Action News.

Officers also say the helicopter unit has made their lives safer.  

During a chase, for example, police cruisers are often called off if public safety is compromised, but officers don’t lose sight of the suspect thanks to the helicopter. 

“The things we do -- the assistance we’re able to provide for the officers on the ground is tremendous,” Cutburth said. “I remember being an officer responding to calls for service or having someone run from me on foot or in the car, or looking for someone in the field.”

The most recent fleet purchased in 2012 consists fo three helicopters, costing taxpayers roughly $8.6 million.