JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KFVS) - The Missouri State Highway Patrol reports a success rate of more than 90 percent for its Aircraft Division.
Since July 2016, the Patrol says the Aircraft Division has helped law enforcement agencies with 114 pursuits, and has tracked 103 successfully.
It was at that time the Division started using an infrared camera and map overlay system on a Bell 407 helicopter. The main purpose of the equipment was to perform search and rescue missions for lost or wanted subjects.
When the equipment is not being used for these purposes, the Patrol uses the camera and mapping systems to help law enforcement agencies across the state capture fleeing suspects, increasing the safety to the motoring public, the officers, and the suspects.
According to the Patrol, applying this technology during an active pursuit allows ground units to discontinue active pursuit, slow down, and follow at a safe distance out of sight of the suspect. The aircraft tracks the fleeing vehicle, day or night, and provides accurate turn-by-turn information to the ground units while recording the incident for purposes of evidence. The map overlay provides the flight crew with street names, points of interests, and addresses.
They say the suspect nearly always slows to a safer, more reasonable speed. Once the suspect comes to a stop, the air crew informs ground units who make contact with the occupants of the vehicle and make an arrest.
The MSHP gave the following examples of successful searches by Aircraft Division personnel:
On an evening in December 2019, members of the Aircraft Division located a suicidal subject that had taken a large number of pills and fled into a wooded area. The subject was located by the air crew who then directed officers to their location. The subject received the medical attention needed and has recovered.
In spring 2019, members of the Aircraft Division located a male subject armed with a knife who was wanted for a domestic dispute. The man was taken into custody.
On an evening in November 2019, the Aircraft Division’s air crew located a subject wanted for a shooting during a domestic dispute.
In 2018, the air crew located a subject armed with a rifle who had fled into the woods near a school. The subject was located and taken into custody.