The Tuscaloosa Police Department's Air Patrol Division has a new hangar facility, which was provided through ELEVATE Tuscaloosa funds from the City of Tuscaloosa.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place Wednesday afternoon and featured Mayor Walt Maddox, Councilwoman Raevan Howard, chairwoman of the public safety committee for the City of Tuscaloosa, and current and former members of TPD's air patrol division.

According to TPD spokeswoman Stephanie Taylor, the new air patrol hangar, which is a 13,500 square feet facility that previously served as a flight school, will replace the former facility.

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Taylor said the former facility could only house two of the four helicopters that are used in the division and because of the lack of space, unit members would have to remove one to work on maintenance repairs when they arose.

Chief Brent Blankley said the new facility will enhance the air patrol division, which he said is an important aspect of the department.

"Our helicopter and aviation unit is very important to us," Blankley said. "We use it for anything between monitoring pursuits, to being in the skies during the holidays when people are shopping, as well as ballgame traffic or while looking for suspicious or lost people. In our old facility, we couldn't get all of our helicopters in to tear them apart and work on them so this allows us to keep them in top physical shape to allow us to be able to have a helicopter in the sky as much as we need it."

Mayor Walt Maddox said he was proud to reach the point where the new hangar could be unveiled as a part of funding through ELEVATE Tuscaloosa.

"When we pledged to do ELEVATE Tuscaloosa back in 2019, we made public safety one of the cornerstones," Maddox said. "In fact, 20% of every dollar out of ELEVATE goes directly into public safety, including projects like this."

Maddox said the helicopter division is "absolutely unique in our state and provides an incredible service to the people of Tuscaloosa to keep them safe and secure."

Councilwoman Howard said the public safety committee wants the police department to know they are fully supported for all of the efforts they make to provide safety and security to the citizens of Tuscaloosa.

"To have an aviation department that feels good about their operations and what they have to go out and do makes us feel better, so whether it's an emergency situation or a criminal situation, we know that our aviation department can handle it," Howard said. "They feel confident in their ability to work on their helicopters and with this new hanger and expansion, they can work on their helicopters inside of the hanger, fit at least 10 helicopters in here and it makes their day-to-day operations more efficient."

Stay connected with the Tuscaloosa Thread for updates on future city project developments happening in and around the Druid City.

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