The Edmonton Police is trading in its 42-year-old Cessna 182 for an unidentified $4.3 million replacement but the story apparently isn’t the big jump in cost. The story is that the department has an airplane at all. Its existence surprised many, including former city council member Allan Bolstad. “I never heard anything about a plane,” Bolstad, who was on council when the city bought the used 182 in 1993 told CBC News. “I’m sure it would have been a high-profile issue if it had been made public at that time.” The head scratching (and indignation) blew up in news stories and social media after the aircraft acquisition plan become public earlier this week.
That prompted Edmonton Deputy Police Chief Kevin Brezinski to come clean on a topic he obviously would rather have left under the radar. “This plane hasn’t been secret, but it hasn’t been publicized for operational reasons,” he said in reference to the 182 on Thursday. “We use this plane to target some of the most severe criminals that we have in this city.” Many police forces use fixed wing aircraft for covert surveillance while their rotary wing fleet mates attract all the public attention. While it’s not clear what Edmonton’s new airplane will be, at $4.3 million it’s likely a much more capable platform than the stock 182. Many manufacturers offer police versions of their aircraft with a suite of onboard sensors that allow precise detection and tracking of suspects on the ground.