LEXINGTON, KY. (FOX 56) — The Lexington Police Department is making noise with its helicopters. But the community rarely complains about the sound.
As an eight-person team, which includes four pilots and four tactical flight officers, as well as two helicopters, the air support unit’s job isn’t just to chase bad guys. Officers said their main task was to keep the community safe.
When a child is lost or a person with dementia goes missing, the unit uses its unique perspective to find them. When a major event happens, like a concert or a festival, their main mission is to help alleviate traffic.
So while waking up at 2 a.m. to a helicopter isn’t ideal, the benefits of officer ops are worth it.
Officer Bige Towery, Tactical Flight Officer, said: “Even as a citizen of Lexington, I have two daughters who are of driving age, so I feel good that we have resources available for the community. “
The planes flew more than 50 missions in June, and many times using a helicopter is safer than driving a police cruiser, such as during a vehicle chase or while traveling in isolated areas.
Police helicopters are very different from commercial helicopters. In fact, the equipment inside is worth more than the plane itself. With federal and state grants, the force recently added a GPS tactical mapping system, which allows officers to more accurately describe locations in the air.
The unit has also just purchased a new search light. Once installed, it will move along with the thermal camera, allowing them to see in the dark. Only one helicopter has the thermal technology at this stage, but the ministry is working on getting a second system soon.
“It’s state-of-the-art equipment that’s on board and helps us do our job,” said Pat Murray, pilot and air support coordinator, “Without this equipment, we wouldn’t be successful in what we do.”
The police department’s only expenses are fuel and maintenance. Officers said federal programs, not taxpayers’ money, are funding the spending.
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