A few weeks ago, the Oakland City Council approved an agreement with the Port of Oakland to let us lease a building for $1/year so we can store the Oakland Police Department’s helicopters.
According to the staff report (PDF!):
The Oakland Police Department (OPD) Air Support Unit started in 1971 under a Federal Traffic Grant. The OPD helicopters operated from the Oakland Intemational Airport and were housed at the North Field, inside Hangar One Building L-118.
During the mid-seventies passenger traffic increased dramatically at the Oakland Airport. Consequently, the Oakland Police Department moved the Air Support Unit to the South Field to assist in airport security. The helicopters were transferred from inside the hangars to exterior parking. Exposure to the external environment has caused substantial corrosive damage to the aircrafts. Approximately $100,000 has been spent to offset weather related damage to the helicopters since being stored outside.
The report later offers this as one of the benefits of the lease agreement:
Maintaining a viable Airport Support Unit will ensure that this division of the OPD continues to have a positive and direct impact in fighting crime, providing support to the Homeland Security operations, giving assistance to the Oakland Fire Department and the citizens of Oakland.
I didn’t even know until I saw this agenda item that we even had helicopters. What does the OPD Air Support Unit do? Why is it necessary? Does anyone know? I’m asking, not judging.