Seeing lots of helicopters lately?
No surprise, considering that both the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office and the Wilmington Police Department have their own. Some days, it looks like O.J. Simpson’s in town, doesn’t it? Remember? The slo-mo helicopter chase?
[UPDATE: The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office has discontinued using its helicopter and joined the regional helicopter team.)
But, back to your question … we’re scratching our heads on that one. We’re assuming that it’s one of the law enforcement birds you’re seeing. Why they’re choosing to hover over your particular neighborhood is a mystery, at least to us.
We did manage to track down pictures of the two agency’s choppers. Maybe this will help you figure out whose helicopter it is.
Local law enforcement officials say they use helicopters to locate suspects and missing people.
The Wilmington Police Department SABLE Southeastern Airborne Law Enforcement helicopter supports officers on the ground to locate suspects and find missing people. If residents see a helicopter hovering in their neighborhood, it is typically involved in a search, said Lt. George Perkins.
The helicopter uses infrared, so people won’t see a spotlight. Since officers in the helicopter can spot things from a long way off, the search area isn’t always directly below where the helicopter is hovering, Perkins said. It wouldn’t be far.
The helicopter was donated to WPD two years ago from the military. The helicopter’s maintenance and operations costs are funded by drug seizure revenue.
The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office started its helicopter program in July 2008. Sheriff Air One flies on a changing schedule of patrols and also when called out in specific cases. The helicopter may respond to any call involving more than one deputy, said Office Spokesman Charles Smith. Calls could be fights, robberies, missing people or assisting a search in a water rescue. If the search involves a case that’s a danger to the public, Smith said the office would notify local media. Drug seizure money also funds all of Sheriff Air One’s operations.
If it’s not one of those helicopters, well … is it a black helicopter? If so, you might want to start constructing a tin foil hat.
Date posted: May 13, 2009