Police helicopter flight pattern to be discussed by Columbus City Council

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Concerns from the community and Columbus City Council members over a Columbus Division of Police helicopter flight pattern are scheduled to be addressed Monday night at a city council meeting, according to a police spokesperson.

Over the weekend, Columbus City Council President Pro Tem Elizabeth Brown voiced frustration for what she said was a “joyride” taken by a police helicopter early Saturday morning.

“It’s problematic for a few reasons, that a pilot chose to basically skywrite in its flightpath. The overhead presence of the helicopter hovering over a neighborhood and taking that time to draw out ‘CPD’ falsely signaled to residents below there was danger in their neighborhood at a time of night that’s pretty disconcerting,” Brown told NBC4 on Monday afternoon.

This wasn’t in the middle of the day. 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.

Columbus City Council President Pro Tem Elizabeth Brown

The flight path of the helicopter, according to FlightAware shows the helicopter in the air from 12:03 a.m. to 1:36 a.m., taking a path that spelled out “CPD” on the south side of the city.

Brown posted a screengrab of the flight path from FlightAware on Twitter, saying, “A joyride is is [sic] NOT essential work.”

Responses on social media to her criticism has been mixed.

“I’m really interested in how we can create a policy that feels common sense to most people most of the time. And to some degree, I don’t so much care what people think on Twitter as long as folks at 1 in the morning when they’re sleeping in their beds are not disturbed by the sound of helicopters simply for a joyride,” Brown added.

In response to the criticism, CPD issued a statement saying they would review the flight pattern and “the appearance that officers were not operating within the mission of the Aviation Section is not acceptable.” The statement also said the helicopter responded to several runs during the flight, including a stabbing and an assault in progress.

Today, Columbus Division of Police leadership became aware of negative online comments about a helicopter patrol flight conducted early this morning. Commander Robert Sagle, who oversees the Aviation Section, is reviewing the flight pattern and details of the flight.

The CPD helicopter took off for a regularly scheduled 1 1/2 hour patrol flight beginning at 12:03 a.m. The pilot navigated throughout the city during the flight and responded on several high priority runs, including a stabbing and an assault in progress. During time between dispatched runs the pilot flew a pattern which spelled out “CPD” when later viewed on a flight tracking application. This took less than ten minutes and was conducted at normal police altitude. No calls for service were missed during this time and no additional fuel was utilized, but even the appearance that officers were not operating within the mission of the Aviation Section is not acceptable.

The Helicopter Unit strives to fly neighborly and works hard each day to assist patrol on high priority runs and crimes of violence.

Columbus Police statement on patrol helicopter flight

Last June, Brown proposed limiting the police department’s ability to purchase military equipment and decrease the department’s helicopter fleet from five helicopters to four.

Columbus City Councilman Rob Dorans joined Brown in her criticism calling the flight “plain dumb” in a tweet.

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