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Howard County Police Department Aviation Program To Be Discontinued 

March 13, 2019

Media Contacts:
Scott L. Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412
Sherry Llewellyn, Howard County Police Department, 410-313-3200

County Executive Ball and Police Chief Myers Promote Taxpayer Savings Without Impacting Public Safety 

ELLICOTT CITY, MD - As Howard County faces a historic $108 million deficit between projected revenues and requested expenditures in FY2020, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball has been reviewing government spending to find solutions. Ball and the Howard County Police Department (HCPD) determined that in order to save taxpayer dollars, without causing any impact to public safety, the HCPD aviation program will be discontinued. It is expected that the program will end on April 30.

“I want to thank every member of the HCPD for their help and cooperation, with special thanks to Chief Myers,” said Ball. “My number one priority is keeping our residents safe. This common-sense change allows us to address our fiscal realities, without sacrificing that safety.”

The recent Spending Affordability Advisory Committee Report outlined the fiscal challenges facing Howard County. “Without changes to revenues or expenditures, current patterns of spending are unsustainable in the long-term,” said the committee report. “Our elected officials have had to make, and must continue to make, tough decisions as they relate to the priorities for funding in our county.” 

To that end, Ball recently directed all county departments to identify savings in their budgets. By discontinuing the aviation program, the county will save more than $300K in FY2020, and over the next four years the savings will total nearly $1.8 million. The county also plans to sell the 12-year-old aircraft, which has a current estimated value of approximately $1.5 million.

Public safety remains the top priority for the Ball administration. Howard County will continue to have aviation coverage from other partner agencies, 24 hours a day. The availability of aviation service to officers and the public will not be affected. 

In addition, the Howard County Police Department will continue to explore more innovative ways to use technology and enhance services to officers and the public. 

“Our aviation unit and its pilots have done great work over the last 20 years,” said Police Chief Lisa Myers. “Due to budget constraints, it is now time to consider more cost-effective options. But with the resources available to us through partner agencies, this will be a seamless transition that won’t affect the services provided to the public.”

“It is difficult to lose an asset as valuable as our Aviation Unit. A tough fiscal climate forces leaders to make difficult decisions,” said Pfc. Chris Davis, Howard County Police Officers’ Association President. “But we are thankful that County Executive Ball and Chief Myers are committed to our agency’s greatest asset; the men and women in uniform.”