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Helicopters in Pursuit Operations

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 1998
6 pages
Publication Series

This paper presents findings and assessments from a study of helicopters used in pursuit operations for the Baltimore City and Miami-Dade County Police Departments.


The study examined each site's policy for ground and helicopter pursuit activity. The primary question considered as a result of the observations of these units was the helicopter's effectiveness in pursuit activities. Available data permitted some basic comparisons on the reasons for pursuits and their effectiveness. The study concludes that from their observational vantage point, helicopter pilots or observers can monitor a vehicle safely and provide pertinent information to ground pursuit officers. This enables the ground pursuit officers to remain in close proximity to the suspect while tracking the location and direction without being noticed by the suspect, enabling officers on the ground to take action once the suspect has stopped or exited the vehicle. Further, the helicopter can assist with a call that involves an officer in trouble by providing direction and, if necessary, a show of force. Helicopters can also report on traffic or environmental conditions. The versatility, range, and vantage point of the helicopter allows ground officers to conduct pursuits more effectively, decreasing the use of high-speed pursuits and increasing apprehension rates. An 18-item bibliography, 4 exhibits, and 5 notes

Date Published: August 1, 1998