Police said today that they were able to spot marijuana plants growing in a secluded area of Leakin Park using the Foxtrot helicopter, which officials say was almost grounded this year due to budget cuts.
Officers kept watch over the area for a month hoping to catch whoever was responsible, but ultimately decided to cut the plants down and snuff out the operation. There were 34 plants in all, with a street value estimated by a police spokesman in the range of $23,000.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake appeared at the press conference, on the helipad on top of the Baltimore Police headquarters building, and said the helicopter is still in the air because the city "confronted a [budget] crisis with honesty and shared sacrifice."
Sgt. Thomas Poffenbarger said the Foxtrot unit does checks on the park and trails when not responding to calls. "Not all crime occurs on street corners," he said.
Rawlings-Blake said the city considered grounding the unit and auctioning off the helicopters – there are four – to save money. "We're happy to still be up in the air serving the city," Poffenbarger said.
Here's a view of City Hall from the roof.