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Long Beach : Police Chief Flew in City’s Copters to Attend Dinner

When vacationing Police Chief Lawrence L. Binkley had to return to Long Beach for a retirement dinner last month, he made sure the trip was a quick one.

He was transported back and forth between Paso Robles and Long Beach in the department’s brand new, $600,000 patrol helicopters.

City Manager James C. Hankla said that while Binkley did not consult him about the use of the helicopters, “I probably would have approved it given the set of circumstances. I don’t consider this personal use.”

Hankla said the helicopters, delivered Aug. 23, were still in a shakedown period and that the trip up the coast provided valuable cross-country training for the pilots and testing of the helicopter’s navigational systems. The city’s old helicopters remained in Long Beach and were available for patrol use, Hankla added.

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Binkley had already planned his vacation when the Aug. 29 date was set for Deputy Chief Billy Thomas’ retirement dinner, which Hankla described as “an important community event.”

Binkley was returned to Long Beach in one of the two new helicopters and transported back to Paso Robles on the other at a cost to the city of about $180 an hour. Hankla estimated that each one-way trip took about one hour and 20 minutes.


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