Costa Mesa Kills 'Luxury' Police-Helicopter Program

Eaglekilled.jpg
"Eagle" clips a political wire
Led by freshman Republican councilman Jim Righeimer, the Costa Mesa City Council late tonight voted to kill an expensive police-helicopter program to help to resolve a massive budget shortfall.

"We need to do this," Righeimer said before the 4-1 vote. "This program is gushing dollars out of it."

The move effectively halts the Airborne Law Enforcement Program (ABLE) beginning July 1.

But don't fret that the cops won't still be in the sky afterward. The Orange County Sheriff's Department has its own air-support division with planes and helicopters, and Anaheim and Huntington Beach each have three police helicopters. The California Highway Patrol, which has an air base in Fullerton, also floods OC with numerous helicopters and planes each day.

Costa Mesa Mayor Gary Monahan said he thinks ABLE has been largely productive in the past, but he pointed out that "most cities" don't have a police-helicopter program.

righeimer.jpg
Righeimer
​"It's a luxury," said Monahan, who noted that his city's budget has dropped from $130 million to $90 million during the current economic woes. "We're in a serious, serious money crunch."

ABLE is a joint-powers authority created by Costa Mesa and Newport Beach. The cities have split the costs of  daily helicopter-patrolling shifts to the tune of more than $900,000 per year each. Neighboring Santa Ana also has contributed more than $500,000 in cash and manpower annually for subsidiary service.

At the hearing, residents either hailed the program in glowing terms or called it a "noisy" and "wasteful" use of valuable government resources.

Numerous police officers and city bureaucrats attended the hearing to pressure the council to at least delay the ABLE vote.  

Councilwoman Wendy Leece, the only person to vote against Righeimer's recommendation, said, "Yes, it's expensive," but worried about the potential "risks" to citizens by reducing a law-enforcement program.

But pervious budget cuts have forced ABLE, whose helicopters are called "Eagle," to cut its 3,000 annual flying hours in half during the past seven months, and ABLE Commander Tim Starn wasn't able to demonstrate any related rise in serious crime in any of the three cities ABLE patrols.

At one point, Councilman Steve Mensinger asked Starn to explain why more cities don't have police-helicopter programs if they are so valuable. 

Starn replied solemnly, "Obviously, the answer is money."

ABLE critics inside Costa Mesa and Newport Beach city halls cringe at the sweet pay packages members of the helicopter crew earn. For example, Starn is paid more than Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, who oversees 4,000 employees and has an $800 million budget. His taxpayer-funded compensation package? More than $290,000 per year, according to records reviewed by the Weekly.** 

Both Leece, Righeimer and Thomas R. Hatch, the city's new city manager, did seem to agree that Santa Ana officials haven't paid a fair share of ABLE costs. They also wondered why Irvine and most Orange County cities don't routinely help to defray helicopter costs. A public speaker, who urged elimination of ABLE, noted that Irvine is OC's safest city and has no police helicopters.

City officials say they are hoping Hutchens will organize a new regional airborne-law-enforcement program for Orange County in the wake of ABLE's destruction.

**Don't fret about Hutchens' law-enforcement income, either. Government records show that when you add her Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department pension to her OC sheriff's pay, she takes home nearly $500,000 annually in total compensation.

--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly

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PrayForPolice
PrayForPolice

All of you who are for shutting down this helicopter program should re-think what this means to you! Who cares if they sometimes make noise over your house! That should make you feel safe and secure that they are doing their job! Those men up in the air were keeping you safe! Some of these men have devoted 20+ years of service to you! And this is how you repay them! By bashing them? You all should feel ashamed! And when you are in danger, or attacked, or your daughter goes missing and you are looking for that bird in the sky called Eagle they wont be there because people like you and Righeimer and Mensinger thought that they were not needed and that you were safe without them. Well your not because those men have saved countless lives and have taken hundreds of chriminals off your street out of your neighborhood and made you and your family safe. This is the worst thing that could happen to Costa Mesa. I pray that you never need them but if you do just remember I told you so! I also pray for all the men and woman serving in the police department, that in these hard times and with the increasing crime rate that they return home safely every night/morning to their wives, husbands, and children! These men and woman are my heroes! Thank you for your commitment and dedication! 

All my love!

Rsklu
Rsklu

I live just north of Costa Mesa where my family have endured very low flights, noise and intrusion into our everyday lives. No need to fly just a few hundred feet above you home, circling you when you are taking out the trash or standing in your front yard. We are a law abiding family, but this intrusion and the feeling you are some kind of suspect is ridiculous. I am happy to see the program come to an end.

Trnjneff
Trnjneff

I agree fully.  I figured my home must run along their flight path, they fly over us so much.  But since they one night shined their very bright light on me while I was in my spa, for what seemed like 20, but was probably 10 min,  just going round and round while I tried to cover myself  with two water float noodles. I had my head down while  trying  to wave them away. Now what kind of police work would constitute them doing that?  Ill tell ya ,nothing. they were on a boob hunt and I wonder how many other women they have done this to.Its disgusting behavior and a huge waste of our hard earned money! I can hardly wait for July first. I will fill free in my own backyard for the first time in a long time.

tb
tb

Good riddence.

The circling patrol helecopters made the community seem like a war zone.

Bye.

1artdork
1artdork

Glad to see that nosey and annoying contraption gone! Did this uptight, crime free town ever need that fuel guzzling nuisance in the first place? NO! The only thing it ever did was blast it's blinding light at citizens sitting in their back yards and circle overhead for hours when a cat was stuck in a tree. The airborne over paid Barney Fife! Forever hopeful that they would discover a real crime, a non white or a horde of roaming gangs looking for their daughters! Good Riddance! The silence is wonderful with that flying pile gone!

Pamela Michaels
Pamela Michaels

Jim Righeimer was acting as an individual agent when he handled this and several transactions for our family. HE DOES NOT NEED TO BE IN PUBLIC OFFICE!!! IT SEEMS THAT THERE ARE SEVERAL ISSUES BEING ADDRESSED HERE AND I APOLOGIZE IF I AM NOT IN LINE WITH THESE THOUGHTS.I am using the best platform possible to have this URGENT INFO reach ALL OF THE PUBLIC POSSIBLE.Help direct me if you can to the best, largest platform possible.THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Pamela Michaels
Pamela Michaels

Thank you for your concern. I am a business woman and remove an emotional component before making comment regarding a business matter. Please understand the comments provided were based upon absolute, exact fact. It is very disgusting that Jim Righeimer chooses to take money on a transaction and leave the aftermath of problems with my 80 year-old Mother or with anyone for that matter. To reiterate, he is UNETHICAL, DISHONEST, VOLATILE AND ABUSIVE.I TRUST HE WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO CONTINUE TO INFLICT HIS BAD CHARACTER AND BAD FAITH ACTIONS UPON OTHERS. All I have sited regarding Jim Righeimer is true. Governing authorities should take a look at any office he does hold or will hold.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

Again I am sorry to hear of the problems acquired in hiring him, however I am still confused in how a City Planning Commissioner Now Council Member got into the roll of executor/guardian?

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

I m sorry for your problems, I am sure you were emotional when you wrote this comment and there are many questions here. It sounds as if Righheimer was in your family employ as a private person, not a city employee, I am curious what a planning commissioner would be doing handling such a liquidation, that is usually done by the Public Administrator/Guardian Office.

Pamela Michaels
Pamela Michaels

FEBRUARY 28, 2011 - JIM RIGHEIMER is unethical, dishonest, volatile and abusive. My 80 year-old Mother and I have experienced this first hand and are, currently, having to deal with Jim again because of his incompetence. Upon the death of a family member 15 years ago, we entrusted Jim to a liquidation process. During this process he had to be held accountible for 'errors' (truly, he was attempting to ignore important components of the liquidation to his benefit). When he was asked about these 'errors', Jim became volatile to the point of verbal abuse on each occassion (cannot imagine what he does to Lena and his children regardless of Lena's tolerance). In that we were in trauma, we moved to the positive and completed the process but is was made horrifically more difficult because of Jim's manic behavior.NOW 15 YEARS LATER WE HAVE DISCOVERED ANOTHER EGREGIOUS, DAMAGING 'ERROR'. Jim has continually promised to correct his error yet has not followed through. My 80 year-old Mother is losing money every day because of Jim. My brother, Mother's son was just deployed to Afganistan and we are left to cope with this and JIM'S horrific treatment. It is me, Mother and my two nieces/godchildren(brother's children).JIM HAS GONE 'MIA' - the document trail he left behind is vague and difficult to follow. WE ARE IN COMPOUNDED CRISIS AT THE HANDS OF JIM RIGHEIMER.If you want further comments please phone 949.285.8196JIM RIGHEIMER MUST NOT BE IN A POSITION IN WHICH HE CAN WIELD POWER OVER OTHERS. HE IS A NEGATIVE, DAMAGING ENTITY.JIM MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO CONTINUE TO BE A PUBLIC SERVANT. He is not a person that ANYONE should or can trust.

Houndk9css
Houndk9css

I hope you sue his pants off!!!!!

Broberts
Broberts

Costa Mexico very much needs this program. We have watched our city being invadedand if not for the efforts of the talented young men and women of station 44 We would allbe victims of crime. But now the victrory is complete, No air support.Hey I know they dontreally need cars they can walk and if we have a crime to report stop by fair drive. Let oneof these council morons who have no history in this City have an incident at home ( oh they dont live here) an getting the S@#T kicked out of them on the front lawn some night and they might wish ol Eagle was UP. We have had this luxury as you all call around for a long time, hell just get rid of the PD OCSO can have the boys at Lacy take on Costa Mesa. The way this City is headed all the residents are going to end up thier anyway.

Marksimmons1979
Marksimmons1979

Well said... it sounds like you remember costa mesa in its glory days... Its so sad what its become. NO air support, vital equiptment & property sold off, mass layoffs to public safety dispite cuts to pay and pentions. A rookie city manager, Police Chief and Division Commander on Admin leave, a mostly corrupt city council hosile to public safety and lets not forget now the are discussong getting rid of the fire department in lue of letting the county take over fire service.... So where is all the money going to go? Do we have a City of Bell scandel in the making?

xushuhua64
xushuhua64

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Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

"But pervious budget cuts have forced ABLE, whose helicopters are called "Eagle," to cut its 3,000 annual flying hours in half during the past seven months, and ABLE Commander Tim Starn wasn't able to demonstrate any related rise in serious crime in any of the three cities ABLE patrols."

This one comment is what managers need to look at...

Another comment to hear: A public speaker, who urged elimination of ABLE, noted that Irvine is OC's safest city and has no police helicopters.

Personally, I believe Righeimer is crooked, and when the State AG finally decides to investigate the corruption in the sale of the OC Fairgrounds they will find evidence showing He was paid by FMW...

Houndk9csa
Houndk9csa

The funny part is Irvine regularly requests service from O.C.S.D alot and sometimes C.M.P.D. so the hole Irvine is the safest city and does not use a helecopter is laughable. Also preplanned communities with HOAs which have severe enforcement standards combined help to keep people under their though. Not just anyone can live in Irvine you get sick of the BS. COMPLY OR BE HARRASSED UNTIL YOU LEAVE TOWN.

Concerned Costa Mesan
Concerned Costa Mesan

Costa Mesa sadly has been on a downhill slide for years. Ever since Chief Snowden in '02 - '03 the Police department has struggled to stay on its feet. Most of the old names, the ones who were not just officers but lived the life have retired and young talent does not seem to stay there long. How does a department go from having was is 3 or 4 chiefs in the first 50 years of its inception to having 3 or 4 chiefs in less the 8 years? When a Corporation changes their CEO that often there is usually a couple of terms for it "bankrupt", "incompetent", "insolvent", or "out of business" perhaps. However I forgot we are talking about politics and government where it seems in the last few years the garbage floats to the top and hangs around like baked on congealed grease while the talent washes away. Some points need to be stated since journalists no longer show all sides to a story or remember that part of their job is to inform and state for the record. The original "EAGLE" (Emergency Air to Ground Law Enforcement" program was originally considered a luxury item and to innovative when it was conceived. The original officers were trained on a small two seater at Long Beach harbor. It has been debated for several years whether Costa Mesa or LAPD had the first Airship program. (I proudly proclaim I am bias as my grandfather was one of those first officers trained.) In 1987 while in pursuit of a robbery suspect in a stolen car Officers James D. "Dave" Ketchum and John W. "Mike" Libolt both 39 along with civilian observer Jeffrey A. Pollard were killed when their helicopter collided with a Newport Beach copter. The Costa Mesa aircraft exploded in flames after crashing in the rolling hills of Bonita Canyon in Irvine. The Newport Beach craft also crashed about 200 yards away, injuring both officers aboard. It was estimated 3,500 mourners showed of at Costa Mesa's Calvary Chapel including 1,150 officers from 31 jurisdictions. Both officers left behind teenage children. As a result the call-sign "EAGLE II" was retired leaving a void in the EAGLE numbering system. Those are the only two officers in Costa Mesa's fifty-eight year history to be killed in the line of duty. The EAGLE program in 1996 became "ABLE" (Air Born Law Enforcement) in 1996 in order to share some of the costs with other cites. The call-sign EAGLE was retained and a slated name change was canceled after protest from the officers. NO matter what anyone say it is a sad loss and the department will not be the same without it. Still may be city hall should look in the mirror as well as what other programs should they also be trimming. There are other programs which also eat up funds which yield no results. Programs which perhaps should be done through donations not tax dollars. They should be monitoring those expense accounts. Look at the current Police Chief for example. The city council new he was a problem because the officers had been telling them that. Instead the stuck their head in the sand. I would like to know who the hold out vote was so I can congratulate that council member. What is that saying, "What is right is not always popular and what it popular is not always right." Before anyone makes any other assumptions let me share a little about me. I am not a law enforcement officer. I did not follow in the tradition by in large because I was not sure if I could handle the sometimes unfair scrutiny by the press. I was not sure if I would enjoy being waved at with one finger unlike firemen who are waved at with all five fingers. I did not want to work for city government who would back you when times were could but vanish at the first hint of trouble. To be a great cop you have to live it not just put on a uniform. This is hard on your children and those you love. I work in the private sector and do not have a huge pension. I have seen just as much corruption in the private sector as the public sector. In that regard they are the same. Those are some of the reasons I am not vested in Law Enforcement however I salute those who are. Why? Simple as this publication so often forgets as do many of those who call them silly names, the majority of those who take an oath and pin on a badge would risk there life to save you no matter how much you despise them. I have even seen officers risk their own lives to save a suspect who only seconds before was trying to kill them. Not because its their job but because they have honor and it is the right thing to do. I am proud of my family ancestry no one can take that away. I will close with something my grandmother reminded me of. In the '70s it was very unpopular to be associated with law enforcement. Still they had a bumper sticker, "Hate Cops? The next time you need help, Call a Hippie." God Bless... Have a good one.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

"I would like to know who the hold out vote was so I can congratulate that council member"

Read the Article:

"Councilwoman Wendy Leece, the only person to vote against Righeimer's recommendation, said, "Yes, it's expensive," but worried about the potential "risks" to citizens by reducing a law-enforcement program."

Marksimmons1979
Marksimmons1979

Wasn't Jim Righeimer the one who was claiming cops intimidated his supporters but it was ultimately unfounded by other investigating agencies. HMM I wonder if that has anything to do with his targeting the poli.. I mean fiscal concerns about the police department. I am sure he is not a cop hater..... That would make it a conflict of interest I would think.

Gina
Gina

HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa. F the flying pigs

Marksimmons1979
Marksimmons1979

Wow very intelligent Gina. Did ya think that up all by yourself or did you have help?

GovtSucks!
GovtSucks!

Damn you guys missed the damn point! how the heck are they pulling in so much compensation 500K in compensation??????? some doctors who work 20 hrs a day and went to school for 10 years dont make that but this cunt gets that much money for going to school for 2 years and on top of it we are in a budget crisis hey give 400K back to the damn city!!!! what do you do all day SIT ON YOUR FAT WHITE ASS

Thegunny
Thegunny

So, who'd they catch, you or a family member.

Marksimmons1979
Marksimmons1979

Why has it got to be about color are you telling me there are no other color asses in government. Sounds like GovtSucks! might have some race relation issues or as you pointed out maybe on to may trips in the black and white taxi with those pretty silver bracelets.

OuterReef50
OuterReef50

The only victory I see here is for the criminals and also the harm to the citizens when these turds are not caught !!! Great job city council !!!

RespectfulOpposition
RespectfulOpposition

Wow. A clever Republican in OC. I think my water just broke.

Peaceful Opposition
Peaceful Opposition

They usually are the smart ones but this seems to be a dumb idea. Of course if it was a democrap he would probably want to have a Chinese company take the program over or perhaps they would increase its budget then call it a cut in spending.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

LOL I think if you removed your head from the sand, (or your rectum) you would possibly discover it is Republicans that support and reward companies for sending American jobs to third world countries. Notice the Board of Supervisors are all Republicans, and they strongly favor contracting county business. An example is for IT services, some out of state Contractor underbid local contractors to overhaul the IT system in OC and the BOS just approved a $250,000 bonus for the work done this year, now Supervisor Bates is fuming as the same contractor is asking for another $200,000 in change orders to complete the project.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

Noticing that Peaceful Opposition, Houndk9css, and Marksimmons1979 have empty Bios, & no record of prior comments here. I will draw my conclusion that they are astroturf bots created by the Corporatist Machine Financed by the Koch Brothers and such. Therefore, unworthy of further comments.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

Oops that reply was posted to the wrong comment It should have been posted as a reply to Pamela Michaels Comment.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

I m sorry for your problems, I am sure you were emotional when you wrote this comment and there are many questions here. It sounds as if Righheimer was in your family employ as a private person, not a city employee, I am curious what a planning commissioner would be doing handling such a liquidation, that is usually done by the Public Guardian/Public Administrator?

Marksimmons1979
Marksimmons1979

Aside fom the grammer well put houndcss. You must be on a cell or have gone to one of the fabulously (liberally) run public schools. P.S. by what is a dweezledi... oh I know it must be what came out of peacfulls rectum....lol Stupid people who yout parties...

Houndk9css
Houndk9css

Really what years did more foreign companies (who are not having to play by the same rules) come to the U.S. ? 1976-1980 Hmm Cater was a what? Um and when you raise taxes on U.S. companies and lower impot taxes that engourges what? Oh yea they go overseas and take the jobs with them. Who recently did that? OBAMA I could get into GDP, CBO reports, economics, stats or just plain history but instead ill say this... I believe in the ideals of the country not the ideology of a political party. That said history has shown and seen people denagraded, silenced and even gone as far as being exterminated all in the name of liberal ideology. It is the conservative values although not perfect that are the ones who fight against evil rather then trying to be friends with it. Finally take this onto consideration before Obama was elected Budwieser was considering a deal to sell out to a foreign company in Europe. After lookin at the numbers they decided & were quoted as saying as long as Obama was not elected they could afford to stay and not cut jobs. Well we know what happen. You see the mere threat of liberalism scare businesses. They people who make the jobs. Facts dont lie.. I would continue to banter with you and challenge you to a battle of wits but I fear you have show up unarmed...

plowbubb
plowbubb

I got my Criminal Justice degree from "United Forensic College" I got a job in 2 months and now solving crimes. You can also do the same, search internet.

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