C.T. Martin: APD requested funding for helicopter 11 years ago - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

C.T. Martin: APD requested funding for helicopter 11 years ago

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ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

Atlanta officials responded Monday to the tragic death of two police officers who were killed late Saturday night when their helicopter went down in Southwest Atlanta.

Council member C.T. Martin held back tears as he said the Atlanta Police Department last requested funding for its aging fleet of helicopters in 2001.

"Did council take it upon themselves to try to produce more money to buy new equipment, buy new helicopters?" CBS Atlanta reporter Adam Murphy asked. 

"Well in my mind, I always wanted to provide that unit more money, but again that's the administration's side," Martin said.

Martin said that 11 years ago, the council approved more than $1 million to be used towards replacing one of APD's helicopters, but no other requests were made after that.

"We're not in a situation where there is a need for blame. Significant dollars were spent for refurbishment and costs to keep that helicopter flying and the officer that we lost was one of the best we had, 26 years of experience with the force," Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said.

The helicopter that crashed Saturday night, killing police officers Richard Halford and Shawn Smiley, was a Vietnam war-era chopper, built in 1967.

"With regard to why we continue to allow refurbished aircraft, it's because we listened to the people in our department. There are people in our department responsible for helicopter maintenance and they felt by spending additional dollars we could keep these aircraft flying and we listened to our pilots," Reed said. 

Reed said a moratorium has been placed on the city's helicopter fleet until further notice.  Georgia State Patrol is offering backup if necessary.

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