Law enforcement helicopter on display at Sheriff's conference

Monday, June 24th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

During the National Sheriff's Association conference in Tulsa, folks are showing off the latest high-tech crime fighting tools.

One of those is a Bell 407 chopper. We had a chance to see it in action and although it's out of Tulsa's price range, it is every pilot officer's dream. News on Six crime reporter Lori Fullbright shows us why. Three different companies showed off their latest and greatest police choppers.

The Bell 407 was the granddaddy of them all, unlike normal police choppers, that hold two people, this one carries six. That means it can not only do patrol, but, could carry a SWAT team for insertion, and getting out of the chopper is easier and faster since the doors slide open in flight. The bigger size means it can also carry a water bucket to douse fires. It also has a dual camera system that takes both daylight pictures and thermal imaging at night.

Tulsa County Sheriff's office Captain Tim Albin, "They can read a license plate from a thousand feet and it flies in whisper mode or silent running, it has all the bells and whistles you can think of.” The Bell also carries a floodlight that is 30-million candlepower strong, which means it can light up a football field from a thousand feet up. And, it can go 160 miles an hour, where most current ones do 120. All of which adds up to a fierce tool for cops as they take on crooks. "Surveillance, search warrants, narcotics, search and rescue. And, all that technology certainly comes into play.”

Another advantage is the officers on the ground and gets a bird's eye view without actually going up, thanks to the chopper's microwave downlink.
Much like TV news trucks, they can now beam the pictures to a command post on the ground; so making tactical decisions is less guesswork and more fact-based, which protects not only officers, but citizens too.

Tulsa currently has two police helicopters and plans to buy two more. They are in the city's capital improvement plan for 2003-2004 and the following year and will be paid for with the recently passed sales tax money. Each chopper costs a little more than a million dollars.