Friday, April 12, 2013

The Final Nail In The A.B.L.E. Coffin

The Daily Pilot reports last night, HERE, that the final nail has been hammered into the coffin of the AirBorne Law Enforcement (A.B.L.E.) joint helicopter effort between Costa Mesa and Newport Beach.  After more than forty years - when then-police chief Roger Neth had the wisdom and foresight to launch the original Costa Mesa helicopter program - through the establishment of the A.B.L.E. program in 1997, the city has had a helicopter unit protecting the residents since 1971.  Now the assets have been disbursed, the staff scattered to the winds and the program that was once the model municipal helicopter law enforcement program in the country - the one others emulated - is officially no more.

It's been nearly two years since a short-sighted Costa Mesa City Council, citing a fabricated fiscal crisis, unilaterally decided to shut down this exemplary program.  I wrote about it at the time, HERE and HERE, and a year later HERE.

A.B.L.E is gone, but its spirit lives on in the form of the brave, skilled men who once flew the skies of the Newport-Mesa and beyond to keep us safe.  That spirit was clearly on display last week when several former members of A.B.L.E volunteered to fly Newport Beach resident Peter Adderton's donated private helicopter in support of the massive search effort for two lost Costa Mesa hikers in Trabuco Canyon.

As stated in the Daily Pilot article, it may be impossible to accurately quantify the contribution to our safety A.B.L.E produced, but EVERY law enforcement leader in the state joins us in mourning its loss to the communities it served.  With crime up in Costa Mesa more than 15%, you can lay the loss of that program - a "force multiplier" in law enforcement parlance - directly at the feet of vindictive  now-Mayor Jim Righeimer, who allowed his personal political ambitions and his vendetta against members of the Costa Mesa Police Department to cloud his judgment and lead the charge to disband A.B.L.E as part of a broader evisceration of the Costa Mesa Police Department.  As crime continues to rise in our city, please feel free to contact him directly and let him know how you feel.

Finally, let me ask Mariah Carey to, once again, express how I feel about those brave flyers and the crews that kept A.B.L.E. in the air all those years.  To those brave souls who patrolled our skies, aided in the capture of criminals, fought fires and rescued individuals, thank you all for your service to this community.  Miss Carey...

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Anonymous safety at a lower cost said...

All I know is that if Geoff West is angry about something then it must be good for our city. When some get old they start to fear the bogyman and all they care about is their safety at any cost. West doesn't work so he didn't care if that gettobird flew over his house at 2 am on a work night. We get great public safety coverage at a much lower cost now that the decision has been made. West blames Costa Mesa but never Newport Beach who will tell you that they support the decision. But that disrupts the angry West rant against anything council.

4/12/2013 06:39:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Actually, the folks in Newport Beach had NO choice. Once the Costa Mesa City Council made its decision to abandon A.B.L.E. they could only go along with it - and put on a smiley face.

In law enforcement, as in life in general, you get what you pay for. That's the case in our post-A.B.L.E. world.

And, yes, I'm angry about it. The A.B.L.E. choppers were much, much quieter than the Huntington Beach choppers. If I heard them late at night - which was rarely - I knew they were on the job, keeping me safe.

I appreciate the job the H.B. guys do for us, but they're teetering on the brink, too.

4/12/2013 07:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Phoenix said...

It's not completely gone.
The equipment that they used may have been sold off but the most valuable part of ABLE, what really made it work, is still here.
The people with the knowledge, dedication and training to manage and fly what was, and actually still is, the one of the most skilled airborne law enforcement agencies in the country are still here.
Ultimately that will be gone too and THAT will be the final nail.

4/12/2013 07:48:00 AM  
Anonymous gangland boogyman said...

Yea 'lower cost'... those pesky paramedic and PD sirans in the night are a bother too.
The problem with people like you is you don't have a clue about what is going on out there when you're in bed on a work night. If you did, you'ld pull the covers over your head.
Keep telling yourself that what you're getting is great and when you here someone at your back door, just pull those covers up.

4/12/2013 07:58:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Actually, for all practical purposes, it is "completely gone". The mechanics have new jobs, the command staff members are back in patrol cars, as are some of the pilots. The remaining pilots are working elsewhere. It's like a bicycle that has been disassembled and the parts scattered around the neighborhood. Technically, it's still there, but the pieces would need to be retrieved and re-assembled for it to be a bicycle again. There is no political will in Costa Mesa to do that.

Yes, some of those pilots still fly, keeping their hours and skills up, but when the meeting ended yesterday A.B.L.E. was gone - poof! A sad day...

4/12/2013 08:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Phoenix said...

Geoff, I agree that the "political will" around here is what caused the disbanding of ABLE in the first place and that isn't likely to change any time in the near future.
But, if for some yet to be known reason it did, the ABLE equipment is just that... equipment. Actually just like patrol cars or the rest of the stuff that the PD uses. It can be replaced. It's just a matter of going out and buying another bicycle.
The part that would be impossible to replace is the people who made it all work.
A police office going from a patrol car into EAGLE was a huge task, years in the making.
First becomming a skilled TFO (Observer) and then the Comercial/IFR helicopter flight ratings before stepping up to the advanced jet engine type that is normally used in this kind of work. Factor in that some of ABLEs pilots were certified flight instructors and also night vision certified instructors, who could bring a new pilot up to the highest skill level without needing to go outside of ABLE to do it. How do you replace that?
The point being... if the political will were to change, some of these people are still around and with a new bicycle, ABLE could ride again.
A student of history will tell you that sometimes unforseen events can change the direction of things.
Do I think that's going to happen? Actually, I hope not because it would have to be a disaster of some kind, but if it did, the irreplacable part of ABLE is not gone yet. Unfortunately... the political idiolog who is responsible isn't either.

4/12/2013 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

I don't disagree with you. We could go out and buy more helicopters tomorrow. You're correct - the difficult part is finding and training the officer/pilot/observers to do the job. I know just a little bit about the time it takes to learn to fly helicopters - I did that in an earlier part of my life.

When the original helicopter program was created it took a special "will" of the city council at the time - a kind of forward-thinking that is not evident on the current council.

4/12/2013 09:55:00 AM  
Anonymous History Channel said...

Wasn't it previously established that the disbanding of ABLE was political payback from Napoleon Righeimer?

4/12/2013 11:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Shot down from behind said...

I don't know that you can say it was "established".
It was pretty obvious that he came in with a hatred of the PD (they did try to keep him out because they knew what he was all about).
Pulling the plug on ABLE was just a slap in the face and clear signal to the PD of what was to come.
What was most disgusting to me was Newports backing away when there were things they could have done to keep it up.
NBPDs new chief stated that it was very important to keep that service.
I guess he decided it was more important to do what the politicians wanted and keep his job.
They after all had just spent way over a hundred mill on their new city hall/council throne room and needed that money for landscaping.

4/12/2013 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger just wondering... said...

Shot down, yes. And placing the residents and their safety directly in the middle without a second thought to their safety.

4/13/2013 09:52:00 AM  

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