COLUMBUS (WCMH) — An internal review has determined there was no misconduct in two Columbus police officers using a helicopter to spell out “CPD” over a residential neighborhood during the overnight hours.
The review, conducted by Commander Robert Sagle of the special services bureau, was dated April 21 and released on Tuesday.
“The aircrew stated the pattern was flown in a random area of the city and they did not intend to their actions to be disrespectful or disruptive,” Sagle wrote. “Although there was no misconduct observed, I recommend additional language be added to the Aviation Section Standard Operating Procedures to remind officers to not loiter over residential areas.”
The flight took place on April 17 between midnight and 1:40 a.m. The “CPD” pattern came to light from the helicopter’s flight path being tracked by the website FlightAware. Elizabeth Brown, a Columbus City Council member who has since decided to run for Franklin County Commissioner, criticized it as a “joyride.”
“This wasn’t in the middle of the day,” Brown told NBC4. “I don’t think any of us welcome helicopter noise at any point, but this was 1 [a.m.], and I really believe that there should have been some smarter decision-making taking place to follow protocol and to follow the mission of the helicopter unit.”
Sagle apologized to council for the flight and detailed it in his review.
He said the pilot was flying along main roadways when he turned to observe something on the ground to determine whether it was suspicious. After determining it was not, he and the tactical flight officer noticed the flightpath function in his helicopter showed he had flown in the shape of a C. The pilot then decided to spell out “CPD,” which took about 10 minutes, before he returned to patrolling and then receiving his next call for service.
The flight occurred on the Southeast Side, roughly marked by James Road to the west, Refugee Road to the south, Hamilton Road to the east and I-70 to the north.
Sagle wrote that he became aware of the CPD pattern from online comments later that day and that both members of the flight crew “expressed remorse for bringing negative attention to the Division and the Aviation Section.”