LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- We see them in the air all over Southern California; law enforcement helicopters hovering over major crime scenes or taking part in wild chases that sometimes go from one county to the next.
But should these helicopters fly so much and is the benefit worth the cost? A new study conducted by UCLA is looking at the impact of the emissions from the use of these helicopters.
"The climate emissions aspect, where this burning of fossil fuels is part of the global climate crisis that has myriad effects," explained UCLA Professor Nicholas Shapiro who helping examine the helicopters.
Shapiro looked at data from October 2019 to October 2020 and figures LAPD helicopters used about 766,000 gallons of fuel.
An average car might use about 500 gallons a year - so that means it is the equivalent of about 1,500 cars on the road.
"I think the idea in the public is that these helicopters are constantly in pursuit, constantly the eye in the sky, a high-speed car chase, but the reality, what we see, is that these are helicopters that are largely on patrols, specifically with the LAPD," said Shapiro.
According to its website, the LAPD helicopter fleet is the largest municipal air operation in the world. Now, the L.A. City Controller's Office is also looking at the operation.
"We're taking a look at the use of fuel by these helicopters. We're also taking a look at how much that fuel costs the city of Los Angeles and taxpayers in Los Angeles," explained Sergio Perez, who sits on the accountability and oversight team at the controller's office.
Eyewitness News contacted LAPD who said until they can study the report, they can't comment on it. On LAPD's website, it does say that helicopters are critical for a number of investigations. The controllers office says it will look at all of that.
"Is it stopping crime? Is it reducing crime? Is it addressing crime? What is the overall detail costs of it? We know that they keep at least two birds in the sky every day. What does that mean for us, both financially but also environmentally and quality of life issues?" asked Dinah Manning, the Director of Public Safety for the controller's office.
The study could take months to complete. Shapiro said they still have to gather more data before they can issue a final report.