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CBS2 Exclusive: On Chopper Patrol With A New Addition To The NYPD's Crime Fighting Arsenal

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- At one time, it may have been easy to hide in New York, a city of pancaked buildings, winding alleys, and countless nooks and crannies.

But not anymore.

As CBS2's Weijia Jiang explained, the NYPD's newest weapon in its crime fighting arsenal can practically find a needle in a haystack.

A twin-engine helicopter equipped with state of the art technology, like high-definition, infrared cameras that can capture the facial features of a perpetrator from 2,000 feet in the air.

From tip to tail the new chopper is a marvel of advancement. From its navigation and communication systems to its instrument panels, searchlights, and night vision goggle systems. It can even detect radiological activity in the event of a dirty bomb.

Lieutenant Richard Knoeller has been flying with the aviation unit for seven years.

"It helps us in ways that we've never even dreamed of. We're at the forefront right now, of airborne law enforcement in the nation," he explained.

The eye in the sky can be fast.

"We could probably get to any point farthest of the city in seven minutes," Detective Michael Sielo said. "If there is a threat on the ground or active shooter, we can neutralize that threat from the helicopter."

The bird comes with cameras so high-tech that they can even zoom in to read a license plate number.

Using advanced mapping systems the pilot can pinpoint the exact address of a car, even accessing the name of the owner of a building. It's information that can be sent to officers on the ground.

"We'll be giving them the initial size up on what they may be getting themselves into," Detective Sileo said.

The technology is so precise the NYPD used it to pinpoint and arrest a suspect wanted for allegedly aiming a laser pointer into the cockpits of passing planes.

Pilots and crew first get training on a simulator. Then it's time to hit the ground and water for more training in advanced search and rescue, hoist and water rescue, and dive recovery.

It's all in a day's work for the new crime fighter.

The NYPD told CBS2 is purchased four of the helicopters at $9.8 million each.


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