GRDA Helicopter Serves As 'Police Department's Eye In The Sky' For Holiday Crowd

Monday, July 4th 2016, 9:31 pm
By: News On 6

Grand Lake is one of the holiday hotspots for the Fourth of July.

Everyone enjoys their fun on boats and that's how police patrol 1,200 miles of shoreline.

“There are so many coves that are unnamed up here; we get a reporting party and we kind of focus in on a certain area," said Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) Pilot Brian Lambert.

The GRDA’s helicopter serves as the police department's eye in the sky.

“We try to make it up and down and assist law officers on different calls,” Lambert stated. “We do have a lot of RPs, reporting parties that do call in, incidents if they see something going wrong."

Lambert flies GRDA's Bell 206 Long Ranger to get around the Grand Lake quickly.

It's 60 miles from the Pensacola Dam to where the Neosho River flows into the lake.

When he's not surveying GRDA's 2,200 miles of power lines, he's patrolling two lakes and a river system.

"We have so many miles of shoreline and water, and now with the Illinois River down there… that's about another 19 miles of river that people are up and down," he added.

And when the helicopter is not providing search and rescue, it's helping count the number of boats on the lake.

The busiest day this weekend was Saturday with about 2,500 boats on Grand Lake.

Boat counts are used to help gauge where and when police resources are needed.

The count is conducted on Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends.