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Why do they keep flying that police helicopter over my neighborhood?

This question comes in so often that we developed this response to it:

“There may be various reasons why the helicopter is out and overhead,” said Linda Rawley Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Wilmington Police Department.  “They could be aiding in the pursuit of a suspect and giving instructions to police cars on the ground. They could be searching for a missing person. They could be keeping an eye on an arrest on the ground or simply conducting a training exercise. If the helicopter is right above your home or neighborhood they are typically watching something several hundreds of feet away since they can’t see directly below the chopper. Needless to say whenever they are out – they are providing a birds-eye view of our city to help keep us safe.”

The SABLE Aviation Unit, which includes two helicopters, is a regional  initiative shared between the Wilmington Police Department, Leland Police Department and the Pender County Sheriff Department. Each agency provides officers for mission support. The Wilmington Police Department is responsible for daily operations and is the primary liaison for the program.


SABLE Aviation Unit

This is an updated answer to a question first answered in 2009.


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8 Responses to “ Why do they keep flying that police helicopter over my neighborhood?”

  1. On January 21, 2010 at 8:10 pm Mike R wrote:

    I hear and see these things all the time also…

    I guess hovering noisy helicopters will be the way of the future for the city of Wilmington…

  2. On January 24, 2010 at 1:30 am B Williams wrote:

    I hate that helicoptor! I know what you are saying!

  3. On January 28, 2010 at 12:40 am Bob wrote:

    These birds cost several thousand dollars per year to operate. With both the city & county being relatively small jurisdictions, why not just share their air assets and operate them jointly? Heck, for that matter, do what Jacksonville, FL, Columbus GA, Las Vegas, NV and other cities have done: merge the Police and Sheriff into one department. The name “Wilmington-New Hanover Metro PD” has a nice ring to it, I think.

  4. On October 22, 2010 at 9:14 am Wade Griffis, Wilmington, N.C. wrote:

    Give me a break! The helicopter usually flies above 1000 feet. They are not very noisey. My dog farting makes more noise.

    If they are hovering over your neighborhood, it is because something bad is going on.

    Get a life, people!

    Turn up the volume of, ” Marty Povich” and get on with your fantasy life.

  5. On May 19, 2011 at 11:00 pm Indepenent wrote:

    I hear this stinking chopper hovering every night. I’m sick of it and what a waste of money. So we are to believe that if a fight breaks out and more than one cop is dispatched the chopper gets the call as well! Unbelievable! This town is getting too big for it’s britches and it’s debts are too!

  6. On January 24, 2012 at 9:28 pm Wilmington wrote:

    I’m listening to them over my house right now,and that’s with TV on! My neighbors and myself have ALWAYS wondered why they seem to always hover over our neighborhood/area of Wilmington. Is it turning into a bad area that they have to have helicopters go over EVERY night!?!? Our other thought was it’s a ‘practice area’ for them? After several years of this, we’re just scratching our heads wondering why this area…every night? We watched one the other night get WELL below normal level..so much that me, my son & neighbor waved at them. Would be nice to get a factual answer on this question!!!

  7. On March 5, 2014 at 2:07 pm matt becker wrote:

    One cannot help but wonder how much/many of these police helicopter harassment incidents are really a cover for whats called “blockbusting”, that is creating such a bad atmosphere in a area, it becomes undesireable to live there…thus driving down real estate prices; favorable to shady developers who want to get the land CHEAP! As they say “follow the money” I believe this is happening to an area of Phoenix in which I live, called Sunnyslope. Its a poor area, sanwhiched between two rich areas, and developers no doubt want the land. At the very least, it is interesting how the police helicopters (“ghetto birds”) play into or ‘dovetail’ into developrs scams.

  8. On September 11, 2014 at 12:13 pm Katie wrote:

    So good to hear someone else is at least concerned about this. I live in Tulsa OK. Police helicopters are dive bombing our neighborhood for 4 years now. A private college just up the road wants our neighborhood for their own development. I just don’t know what to do about them. We own our land here in Oklahoma to infinity. A aviators license has public trust for use of our airways. They are supposed to do no harm. If they are harassing you or doing harm to you document the harm and times and notify the FAA. You should consider going after the pilot’s license instead of dealing with the police. They will likely retaliate, But what are they going to do dive bomb you home. They are already doing that. There are also limits on how low they can fly etc. etc.

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