KGUN 9News


TPD grounds Air Support Unit

Posted at 6:13 PM, Dec 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-28 20:13:45-05
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- Nine On Your Side has obtained an internal memo from the Tucson Police Department that states the Air Support Unit has been taken out of flight service.
The memo was sent last Wednesday by Chief Roberto Villasenor. He wrote that complaints were made by members of the air unit concerning operations and polices, and an audit was done by the Airborne Law Enforcement Association in November.
The audit found there were numerous policy and practice issues that needed to be addressed, Villasenor wrote. He said that "...a large number of the deficiencies were purely lack of policy that described what is often current practice."
Villasenor went on to say that it was a difficult decision to make because of the benefit the unit provides to officers of the agency and the community, but it would " negligent if I did not ensure that all necessary precautions and policy revisions are put in place before the unit continues to operation in it's normal fashion."
According to the memo, TPD can get some aerial support if needed from the Pima County Sheriff's Department and Villasenor hopes the policy changes will only take a few weeks.
Nine On Your Side reached out to Chief Villasenor for an interview, but he was not available Monday afternoon. 
The TPD website says the Air Support Unit responds to an average of 12,000 calls per year, and aided in more than 700 arrests last year.