Law enforcement ride-a-longs are nothing new but this ride was in the Sacramento Police Department's new Bell 505 chopper, the only one in the world being used by a law enforcement agency. I wanted to check out what was so special about this piece of equipment. How will it help tax payers? How will it make the department more effective? I've gone up in many television helicopters, military helicopters and hospital/rescue choppers. The Bell 505 is particularly suited to law enforcement for many reasons.
Its quiet/smooth: The chopper runs very quiet due to the placement of the motor. Usually its close to the carriage, this one sits farther back and higher up. The chopper is also smoother due to a shock system that keeps vibrations to the passengers at a minimum. This adds to the comfort of the officers flying.
The camera System: A large high def monitor inside the cabin helps the observer officer see the action better. There is a zoom function that allows the clear vision of license plates from 250 - 300 feet. The mapping system shows real time addresses so officers in the chopper can better guide ground units. The infrared system is very advanced...the heat signatures are not the blobs you're used to seeing but clearly defined and recognizable faces.
Ground communication: The PA is improved so officers and the public can clearly hear officers in the chopper. No more "Charlie Brown's teacher" announcements.
There are other improvements that I'll get more into once I turn the video around. The overhead look at our region was interesting for several reasons: It gives great perspective on the health of our rivers, an interesting look at the homeless problem (lots of encampments along the river downtown) and a beautiful view of the new auxiliary dam in Folsom. I'll have more details on the new Sac PD chopper when I get the video story done and Sacramento should enjoy its exclusive claim to the Bell 505 because another agency is about to get one: Stockton Police will soon be only the second agency in the world to have one in service.