GSP acts as eye in the sky to catch crooks - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

GSP acts as eye in the sky to catch crooks

April 11, 2006

Albany -- Burglaries are such a problem in that state troopers patrol the skies at night. And those flights are making a difference. Troopers have helped Albany Police catch some crooks.

Georgia State Patrol Sgt. Tony White said "This is the area we were working in, from here over toward Westover."

In the last month, Georgia State Patrol aviation division troopers flew many missions over Albany, assisting the Police. "Provide assistance from a platform, with the use of night vision goggles and the FLIR* infra red system to provide support looking for the criminal element," White said. " We can see things that folks on the ground can not see. And we called them in on several situations that we thought was unusual looking, for the ground officers to check out."

Many of those flight missions over Albany were at night. The State Patrol choppers are equipped to see in the dark. "There are very few things that can hide from us at night. The darker it is, the better it is," said Corporal Kevin Coalson.

On one of their night missions over West Albany, very early in the morning, the pilots spotted a car parked by the railroad tracks by a lumber yard. The night vision goggles alerted that the car had been driven recently, and two people were in it. "The vehicle was very hot. It just did not belong there. We got a couple of Albany Police Department officers to check it out, and turned out the vehicle was occupied, and the driver was wanted on some outstanding warrants," Coalson said.

The requested nightly patrols for the Albany Police have slowed now, but the GSP pilots say they still are flying over troubled crime areas. White said, "While we are en route to different places, we are also looking for criminal activity. Here in the city of Albany and the surroundings. We spend a lot of time over this area."

The GSP pilots say they think their nightly patrol flights helped. "I believe the amount of crime actually went down, from what I can tell from talking with the local chief," White said.

The Georgia State Patrol helicopter pilots are still on stand by for the Albany Police, to give them a sky view on crime problems.

The Georgia State Patrol pilots say you may be able to hear them flying over during their night patrols, but crooks will not be able to see them.

The Georgia State Patrol does not release how many helicopters or pilots they have on their force, but they fly out of six hangers across the state: Reidsville, Perry, Thomson, Athens, Kennesaw, and Albany.

The Albany hanger covers 27 Southwest Georgia counties and assists any law enforcement agency that requests their help.

*Forward Looking Infra Red.

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