- Sunday May 1st, 2011 :: 02:42 p.m. PDT
Pointing lasers at sheriff's aircraft resulting in arrests
Another person who pointed a laser at a sheriff's helicopter was arrested this past week. In the past seven months, helicopter pilots and Aero Bureau aircraft from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department had lasers pointed at them six times while in flight. Four suspects have been arrested.
The incidents included:
April 26, 2011 - Pico Rivera Sheriff's Station area. A 16-year old Asian male resident of Los Alamitos was arrested.
April 18, 2011 - Century Sheriff's Station area (near Lynwood)
January 23, 2011 - West Covina area
December 20, 2010 - Pico Rivera Sheriff's Station area. A 15-year old Hispanic male resident of Pico Rivera was arrested.
December 11, 2010 - Industry Sheriff's Station area (La Puente). Antonio Chavez, a 25-year old Hispanic male resident of La Puente was arrested.
September 22, 2010 - East Los Angeles Sheriff's Station area. (Maywood) Julio Pineda a 25-year old Hispanic male resident of Maywood was arrested.
Pointing a laser at an aircraft is extremely dangerous and is a felony punishable by up to three years in state prison and a fine of $2,000.00. It can also be a Federal offense, punishable by 20 years in Federal Prison. Sheriff's deputies, police officers and all law enforcement ask that for the safety of the pilots and people on the ground, if you see someone point a laser at an aircraft, immediately call 9-1-1 and report it.
"When the laser hits the plexiglass windshield, it refracts the light and fills the cockpit with laser light, causing disorientaiton or temporary blindness. It has caused long term damage to some pilots," said Sergeant Morrie Zager, a helicopter pilot assigned to Sheriff's Aero Bureau. "This is a serious matter. The pilot's disorientation could cause loss of control of the aircraft."
The most recent incident occurred on Tuesday night, April 26, at 10:47 p.m..
Sheriff's deputy pilots flying a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s helicopter reported to deputies on the ground that a person in a car near the Interstate 5 freeway and Rosemead Boulevard was pointing a laser at them.
Pico Rivera Sheriff's Station deputies immediately responded and stopped the car which was traveling south on the 605 freeway. The occupants of the car, including a 16-year old Asian male resident of Los Alamitos who pointed the laser at the aircraft, were detained by deputies. A green laser pen light was found in the juvenile's possession. The suspect admitted that he shined the light at the sheriff's helicopter as it was flying overhead.
The suspect was arrested and transported to Pico Rivera Sheriff’s Station. He was later released to his parents and ordered to appear in juvenile court to face the felony charge.
Fortunately, no injuries were reported by either the sheriff's helicopter pilot or the tactical flight deputy.
During previous incidents, pilots have been so distracted or disoriented by laser lights, they have had to land, cancel landings, or take evasive action resulting in not being able to help the public, in order to ensure the safety of flight crews and people on the ground.
The number of incidents nationally in which people pointed lasers at planes and helicopters nearly doubled when comparing 2009 to 2010, from 1,527 incidents in 2009 to 2,836 incidents in 2010, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The 108 incidents at the Los Angeles airport last year, was more than any other airport in the nation, as reported by the FAA.
“The FAA is actively warning people not to point high-powered lasers at aircraft because they can damage a pilot’s eyes or cause temporary blindness,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. “We continue to ask pilots to immediately report laser events to air traffic controllers so we can contact local law enforcement officials.”
FAA news release and the Top 20 Laser Event Reports by Airports in 2010:
The awareness of law enforcement has been heightened on the ground and in the air. But we need the public's help to protect everyone's safety. Sheriff's deputies, police officers and all law enforcement ask that for the safety of the pilots and people on the ground, if you see someone point a laser at an aircraft, immediately call 9-1-1 and report it.
Or if you wish to remain Anonymous, call “LA Crime Stoppers” by dialing 800-222-TIPS (8477), texting the letters TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES (274637), or using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org
Captain Mike Parker
Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau - Newsroom
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Sheriff Leroy D. Baca
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
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