QUIJANO CALLS FOR HOMELAND SECURITY HEARING ON USE OF STATE HELICOPTERS

(TRENTON) – Following Tuesday revelations that one of the state’s $12.5 million helicopters was used to transport Gov. Chris Christie and his wife around the state for personal business, Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Chairwoman Annette Quijano on Thursday called for a hearing to discern protocols and procedures for the helicopters.
“The helicopters are state-of-the-art models meant to be used for homeland security and patient transport across New Jersey,” said Quijano (D-Union). “I understand the state police have said the helicopter may have been in use for pilot training even if the governor and his wife didn’t need a ride to make all their appointments, but my committee needs a fuller understanding of how these helicopters are being utilized.”
According to news reports, Christie and his wife flew to Bergen County in a state police helicopter and landed in a field adjacent to the baseball diamond where they were then shuttled the remaining distance to take in their son’s high school game. They later left the game in the helicopter for a political meeting at the governor’s official residence in Mercer County.
“The best way for us to get to the bottom of the procedures in place for these emergency helicopters will be to examine pilot training protocols and training schedules and ask questions of the people directly responsible for these homeland security helicopters instead of parsing through press statements and various spokespeople,” Quijano said. “How are pilot trainings determined? What are the trainings when they don’t involve transporting dignitaries and their
families? How many pilots have been tasked to these two helicopters?
“Will there be more in rotation when the other three arrive? Will they need additional training and, if so, will it be tailored to coincide around people’s travel needs? What is the protocol if a dignitary and their family are being flown someplace and an emergency arises? There are many pertinent questions that need to be addressed in the discussion of the utilization of these helicopters.”