Copter patrols prompt noise complaints

GRAND RAPIDS (AP) — State police helicopter patrols over Grand Rapids as part of an effort to curb violent crime in the city and surrounding communities have prompted complaints from area residents.

David Lubbers said he tried to host a dinner party for seven people on his back porch on a recent Saturda night, but a helicopter made it impossible to enjoy the evening.

He said it was enough of an annoyance that he signed an online petition seeking to stop the patrols.

“It was getting to be so we could hardly talk. It was absurdly loud,” Lubbers told The Grand Rapids Press. “It was like someone mowing the lawn underneath your window for three hours.”

State police spokeswoman Tiffany Brown said she didn’t know whether Saturday’s patrol prompted complaints to her agency or Grand Rapids-area departments.

Grand Rapids police have said the helicopter patrols have been beneficial, particularly when police are searching for fleeing or armed suspects.

The decision to use helicopter patrols had been in the works for some time, but a spike in violent crime at the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013 pushed it forward.
The cost for patrols is part of the existing state police budget. Helicopters routinely patrol over Detroit, Flint and Saginaw.

Brian Kelly, of Grand Rapids, said the flyovers Saturday proved an annoyance and made residents wonder whether some type of crime was happening in the neighborhood.

He has an 8-year-old daughter whose bedtime was disrupted, and he described the patrols as “disturbing the peace.”

“It’s stressful for the kids to hear them,” Kelly said. “They have questions about why the helicopters are flying over.”