TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) – A New Jersey Assembly committee today heard from the head of the New Jersey State Police over policies in place for use of state helicopters by the governor.

After word surfaced that Governor Chris Christie used a state police chopper last month to attend his eldest son’s baseball game (see related story), Christie and the state GOP reimbursed the police (although state law does not require it) almost $3,400 for a total of three trips deemed “personal” or “political” (related story).

In fact, Col. Rick Fuentes, head of the state police, says he would prefer Christie use the police department’s helicopter more often.

“From a security standpoint, the governor is safer when traveling by air to an appointment — more than by ground and dense highway and road traffic conditions,” Fuentes told the committee.

He added that there have been times when governors have been denied use of a chopper for “executive transport” — either because of weather, maintenance issues, or a more important mission like a rescue or homeland security.

Should that type of mission ever occur when a governor is in the air, Fuentes said, there are procedures to put the governor securely on the ground and then take the chopper where it’s needed.

Reported by David Madden, KYW Newsradio 1060

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