Charlotte, N.C. – (Wednesday, November 17, 2021) –This past September, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) received a new Bell 407Gxi Helicopter to add to the fleet. After receiving the new Helicopter, it still took several weeks to have all the new and latest equipment fully operational. Finally, we are seeing the results and capability of the new technology combined with our experienced flight crews.
Between November 7, 2021, and November 13, 2021, the Aviation Unit responded to 48 calls for service. They had a role in 20 immediate arrests, six assisted arrests, and recovered two stolen vehicles. An immediate arrest is where the helicopter unit is directly responsible for guiding the officers on the ground to the suspects in a reasonable manner to assume that the suspects otherwise would not have been caught. An assisted arrest is one where the Helicopter provides overwatch as officers are in the process of making the arrest.
A hectic and successful week was capped off Saturday night, November 13, 2021, when the Helicopter was called to assist North Tryon division officers after patrol offices located a vehicle involved in a shooting. After attempting to stop the vehicle, the officers were engaged in a pursuit in which they subsequently briefly lost contact with the vehicle. As officers were circulating the last known location, they came upon the vehicle now unoccupied at Dunwoody Drive and Langley Road. As Snoopy arrived, the helicopter officers immediately located two individuals on the thermal imaging system lying down in a nearby wood line unnoticed by patrol officers in the area. They also noticed a third person running by the nearby railroad tracks. The Helicopter first guided a K9 unit and patrol officers to set up a perimeter around the person actively running and successfully took that individual into custody without incident. The Helicopter then returned to the area where the other two suspects were lying down, who had now moved to a thicker brush line near the 3500 block of Dunwoody. The Aviation Unit guided responding officers to their location, and both suspects were apprehended without incident as well. For additional information about this case, please refer to the report: 20211113-2139-01.
The CMPD is one of only two law enforcement agencies in North Carolina to leverage the benefits of a helicopter. Why? The Helicopter is a force multiplier. The aerial vantage point is nearly 15 times larger than when on the ground. Thermal cameras, moving map systems, searchlights, and night vision operation provisions, among other sophisticated technology, all increase operational success and minimize the impact a situation can have on the safety of the officers and the community they serve.