ATLANTA — A Channel 2 Action News exclusive — fighting crime in Atlanta.
We learned that Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens plans to buy two more helicopters for the police department.
The mayor flew with the unit to see how they patrol from the sky. Only Channel 2 Action News was with them.
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Channel 2′s Dave Huddleston went along for the ride.
The Atlanta Police Aviation Team works around the clock high above the city.
Swarming on streets racers, searching for suspects and helping find missing children.
“Obviously we get the most calls, get there first on scene. Especially now with our camera. We can see from miles away,” pilot Eric Lightkep said.
Lightkep says the team is busier than ever; they swarm on any hot spots from Southwest Atlanta to Buckhead.
“We do quick a few patrols over Lenox,” Lightkep said.
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“We could put eyes on it, and we could start calling the pursuit from being a mile behind it as we catch up,” he said.
Lightkep says street racers use I-20 as a speedway. But they don’t realize he’s above them, tracking their crimes and capturing their license plates. He showed the mayor how to work the camera and follow a vehicle.
“I’m able to track a PT Cruiser, and I can see the license plate. I can see people inside of a car. I can see a tattoo on somebody’s arm if I got close enough,” Dickens said.
Lightkep says they’re getting more calls to help officers on the ground, jumping from one situation to another.
“While we were working that call, they said, ‘Phenix can you cross over the street, we just had multiple gunshots right here on Atlanta Avenue.’ We were able within 10 seconds be the first on scene there,” according to Lightkep.
“Once we get overhead, they know the calvary’s coming,” he said.
Back on the ground, Dickens told me he liked what he saw and wanted more sky patrols.
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“The city of Atlanta, we’re buying two more helicopters to add our ability to pursue and also bring safety to the city,” he said.
Sgt. Chris Newman oversees the unit. He says his four pilots and four tactical officers will be ready.
“It’s a great advantage that we have and a great asset for the officers on the ground,” Newman said.
Dickens told Channel 2 he will start working on buying the helicopters right away.
We also learned if a criminal is heading toward the airport, air traffic control will clear out the airspace so APD’s chopper can continue their chase and bring the criminals to justice.
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