By Curt Yeomans
A donation from the airline that loves to fly may help the Clayton County Police Department's Aviation Unit stay in the air.
An April 21 inter-office memorandum from Lt. Steve Meeks, to Clayton County Police Chief Greg Porter, shows the unit was down to 10 flight hours of fuel for the remainder of the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. That meant the helicopter could not be used as often to assist other police department units in patrolling communities and responding to crimes, wrote Meeks, who is the Aviation Unit manager.
Enter Delta Air Lines.
The Atlanta-based airline offered the police department a donation of 1,000 gallons of jet fuel to help the Aviation Unit get through the remainder of the fiscal year, Meeks wrote in the memorandum.
"This offer from Delta Air Lines will allow us to resume near normal flight operations," Meeks wrote in the letter to Porter.
The police department was given unanimous approval, by the Clayton County Board of Commissioners, on Tuesday, to accept the fuel donation from Delta. There were no representatives of the airline visibly present at the commission meeting, to explain why the donation was being made.
After the meeting, Porter said Meeks had a working professional relationship with a contact at the airline and was able to use that relationship to secure the donation. The police chief said this is the first time the airline has made a fuel donation to the police department.
Because the police department's Aviation Unit was running out of fuel, use of the helicopter was being cut back to conserve as much of the remaining fuel as possible, Meeks wrote in his memorandum to Porter.
"Without another source of jet fuel, our helicopter operations will be severely curtailed until the end of the fiscal year," Meeks wrote. "We have already reduced our flying to only critical call response. This prevents us from using our aviation assets to patrol communities, respond quickly to crimes, like burglaries, and provide increased officer safety."
Meeks added that the Delta Operations Center at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport pumps more than one million gallons of jet fuel per day. He told Porter in his memorandum that the airline will pump the 1,000 gallons it donates to the police department into the department's fuel truck.
On Tuesday, Porter said he was unable to provide estimates for how much 1,000 gallons of jet fuel would have cost the department, or specifics on what kind of fuel efficiency the department's helicopter has. But, he said he was grateful to the airline for making the donation.
"I want to commend Delta for being a part of the police department family," he said. "I think it's a very good offer from them to take the initiative to support law enforcement, specifically the Clayton County Police Department."