POT-SPOT COPTERS PUSHED
T.O. Called A Haven For Growers
A TORONTO councillor vows to revive efforts to arm the police with a helicopter in order to help investigators to pull the plug on marijuana grow-ops. Michael Thompson said yesterday the police need a helicopter equipped with infrared technology to spot homes that criminals use to grow pot.
"This is one way for them to be able to detect whether or not there is excessive heat that is being utilized typically for hydroponic grow-op equipment and so on," said Thompson.
The lack of an infrared-equipped helicopter raises concerns that Toronto is getting a reputation as a safe place for indoor grow-ops, according to a report from former chief Julian Fantino.
Thompson said yesterday that he will present arguments for a helicopter as city councillors work on next year's budget, which will be finalized early in 2006.
He added that if the city can't afford a chopper, councillors may want to try to strike an agreement to share a chopper with a police force that has one.
The need to equip the Toronto force with a helicopter has been a point of controversy at City Hall in the past.
A city auditor's report on the police force's six-month pilot helicopter project, which ended in January 2001, showed 87% of residents surveyed supported the helicopters despite the program's cost of $2.1 million a year.
The auditor said some residents found the Bell Jet Rangers "noisy and intrusive" and suggested less expensive alternatives, including sharing one with another force.