Winnipeg's police chief, backed by Manitoba's Progressive Conservative Party, is pushing for a helicopter to be added to the service's resources.

Chief Keith McCaskill said the chopper would be a "huge benefit" but the question of who would pay for it must first be answered.

He estimated the helicopter would cost between $2 million and $3 million, fully equipped. That includes an infrared device to detect heat sources on the ground.

Operating the unit would cost about $1 million every year but the benefits far outweigh the costs, said McCaskill.

The helicopter could track suspects running through a neighbourhood or provide perspective on the size of an outdoor brawl, he said.

The infrared technology could find a person trying to hide in a place like Assiniboine Park.

"At night, if you're up in the air and you have a car chase and someone jumps out of the car and runs, well this can detect the heat source and track the person wherever they hide, under a bush or something," said McCaskill. "You know where they are."

Also, a helicopter is safer for officers and the public when police are pursuing a suspect. In the case of a car chase, the ground units can be called off and better directed to where the suspects are heading, rather than speeding through the streets, McCaskill said.

"We follow the person until they get out of the car and just send somebody in to pick them up," he said. "So you don't have to deploy, eight, 10 people [to pursue someone]."

Provincial NDP officials told CBC News they have been speaking to administrators at the City of Winnipeg about the idea but they are awaiting more details before making any funding decisions.

Mayor Sam Katz has expressed his interest in the helicopter but also has not committed any funding.

However, the city will unveil its capital budget next Monday and McCaskill is hoping there is something in there that could help his force take flight.

On the weekend, at its annual policy convention, the Progressive Conservative Party, the province's official Opposition, discussed the idea and endorsed it.

The PC party does not control funding from the province but it can try to influence the governing NDP's decisions.