Norway police in more Utøya censure / News / The Foreigner

Norway police in more Utøya censure. Experts renew their criticism of police’s failure to use their helicopter, claiming officials’ decisions and rhetoric were flawed. Accounts indicate that at least one, if not several other helicopters were accessible at the time.Claims and criticism The Gardermoen Airport-based helicopter was grounded for four weeks as a routine measure to save money. However, it was ready for use because it had flown the day before due to maintenance, Aftenposten reports.

norwegianpolicehelicoptercriticism, utoeyashootings, oslobomb, andersbehringbreivik



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Norway police in more Utøya censure

Published on Thursday, 1st September, 2011 at 13:40 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 1st September 2011 at 14:34.

Experts renew their criticism of police’s failure to use their helicopter, claiming officials’ decisions and rhetoric were flawed.

Norwegian police surveillance helicopter
Norwegian police surveillance helicopter
Photo: Scissorhill/Wikimedia Commons


Accounts indicate that at least one, if not several other helicopters were accessible at the time.

Claims and criticism

The Gardermoen Airport-based helicopter was grounded for four weeks as a routine measure to save money. However, it was ready for use because it had flown the day before due to maintenance, Aftenposten reports.

As police crisis response staff called in “all available resources”, the crew reported for duty voluntarily from their summer holidays just minutes following news of the bomb explosion. They were only deployed later the same evening, two hours after Breivik started his Utøya shootings, after personnel initially said they were not needed.

The flying time to Utøya is estimated at eight minutes, slightly longer to pick up a sniper. Police chose to drive to the island instead, claiming, “It was faster going by car, as we would have had to get a helicopter from the base down south.” Politicians and a former police officer have criticised them for “not getting to Utøya faster”.

Senior police staff have argued there was no room for an armed sharpshooter to fire at Breivik aboard the aircraft, as it is just for observation. It is claimed, “The police helicopter is not a platform for firearms support and has no load-bearing capacity for them”. Lifting out some of the onboard equipment would have made room for two.

Personnel doubt that “using it would have really affected the timeline". Whilst Oslo Police Chief of Staff Johan Fredriksen has stated, “The police helicopter would not have influenced the outcome of the catastrophe regarding victims and the injured”, he later admitted that, “we can be criticised for not getting the helicopter airborne earlier.”

Nevertheless, former police helicopter technical operator Finn Jensen says, “The fact it was not in the air when it was needed most shows an extremely serious misjudgement of priorities. It would have been of invaluable help on Utøya. It’s not hindsight, it’s an incontestable fact.”

Decisive

According to Aftenposten, the aircraft is equipped with an extremely advanced heat-seeking camera with a zoom lens that could have assisted crew from a distance, or discover Breivik’s weapons in a matter of seconds. Moreover, an encrypted video link with sound would have allowed staff at the police operations centre to view events as they happened.

Mr Jensen says, “The helicopter comes into its own here and can avoid flying into the line of fire by deploying its advanced equipment. It has been used under armed response situations for many years and has shown itself to be of key assistance for people responsible for approach and arrest on the ground.”

The heat-seeking equipment could also have helped locate injured people after the explosion at government headquarters.

In response to recent criticism, Chief of Staff Johan Fredriksen now says the helicopter question will form an important part of their evaluation. He is still waiting for all the facts, however.

Meanwhile, Einar Holstad, former representative on the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice for the Christian Democratic Party (KrF), presided over the decision to introduce 24-hour police helicopter preparedness.

“This [helicopter preparedness] was a parody during the terror attacks,” he says.




Published on Thursday, 1st September, 2011 at 13:40 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 1st September 2011 at 14:34.

This post has the following tags: norwegianpolicehelicoptercriticism, utoeyashootings, oslobomb, andersbehringbreivik.





  
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