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Beijing Forms Helicopter Police for Olympics
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Beijing has formed its helicopter police team for the security of 2008 Olympic Games, and the pilots will carry out drills as soon as the helicopters are delivered in the second half of this year, a senior Beijing official said.

"The pilot team has been organized and we are working on an air patrol mechanism," said Qiang Wei, deputy chief of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China.

"After serving the security of the Olympic Games, the helicopters will be used to safeguard the safety of Beijing," Qiang, also a deputy to the National People's Congress, said on the sidelines of the parliament's annual session.

The Olympic security system, including security facilities in sports venues, will be completed at the end of this year, and a number of exercises will be conducted, said Qiang.

However, the official did not give details such as the exact number of the chopper crew.

The air police will help collect evidence, trail criminal suspects, support ground operations in combating terrorism and riots, transfer policemen and facilities, and direct traffic, according to the Municipal Public Security Bureau.

The municipal government has sealed agreements to purchase three helicopters and got one free from an Italian firm and its joint venture in east China's Jiangxi Province.

The crew members have been selected from the air force and some college graduates after a six-month training, sources with the bureau told reporters last year.

About 90,000 policemen are expected to be called up for the Games, and the budget for security work is said to be US$300 million, accounting for about one fifth of the total costs, according to the Beijing organizing committee of the Games.

(Xinhua News Agency March 12, 2007)

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