Man charged after laser pointed at police helicopter
A man from Lacombe, Alta., was charged after a laser pointer was aimed at the Edmonton Police AIR-1 helicopter Wednesday night.
At about 10:30 p.m, the helicopter was flying over 106th Street and Whitemud Drive when the beam was shone into the cockpit.
The crew followed the direction of the beam and found it was coming from a vehicle near 38th Avenue and Millwoods Road in southeast Edmonton.
Police officers on the ground were alerted, and the vehicle was eventually pulled over near 34th Avenue and 91st Street. A suspect was arrested without incident.
A man, 38, faces one charge of interfering with the safe operation of an aircraft under the Federal Aeronautics Act.
Laser beams are dangerous when they are shined at aircraft said acting Staff Sgt. Chris Barbar of the Edmonton police.
"When you shine it about a thousand feet high or a mile distance, it becomes about a 30-foot-wide laser beam that covers the whole cockpit," Barbar said. "One that interferes with the operation of the aircraft and depending on the class of laser, it also endangers the eyesight of the flight crew."
Crew members in this case was not injured, but were temporarily blinded, Barbar said.
AIR-1 gets a laser beam shone at it about 10 to 12 times a year. While police were able to track down a suspect this time, that doesn't often happen, Barbar said. Sometimes, culprits are in a large group and pass the laser around, then throw it away.
"Our charge rate is low. But we do have numerous talks with the people, the groups, and let them know what the charges are and what the punishment is in regards to this offence," Barbar said.