Topeka police helicopter unit gets stern review

TOPEKA | An assessment of the Topeka Police Department's helicopter unit finds that lax management, inadequate training and overconfidence led to unnecessary risk and dangerous behavior.

The helicopter unit has been grounded following a crash last April at Washburn University, the third police helicopter crash in Topeka history.

The city asked Culver City, Calif.-based aviation consultant Keith Johnson to assess the unit. Johnson reported a number of problems, including poor judgment, lack of attention to detail and subpar training. He also said more than one person in the unit had fallen asleep while flying and that the unit lacked aviation experience.

Johnson says significant changes are needed for unit to operate safely.

Police Chief Ron Miller says the department wants to fix the problems.