OKC Police Clears Up Confusion Over Air One

Tuesday, December 16th 2014, 10:25 pm
By: News 9

The searchlight blared and orders were shouted over a loud speaker. It was a frightening night for one SW Oklahoma City neighborhood.

Viewers wanted answers. News 9 has learned police were using their chopper to alert neighbors about a burglary suspect search.

What also concerned a lot of people was that no one could really make out exactly what officers in Air One were saying.

It was around 11 p.m. Monday night on the far SW side when some folks were brought out of their homes by officers talking from the sky.

“I looked out the window when I heard it first, I was sitting at my computer,” said SW Oklahoma City resident, Nina Newcomb.

“I heard the word police, but that's all I could really make out,” said neighbor Garrett Rayburn.

People who live in that quiet neighborhood said what they heard Monday night wasn't normal.

“I've been here my whole life and never seen anything like that before, so it's different,” said Rayburn.

“It was weird. I turned off the alarm, and came outside, and looked up,” said Rayburn.

One of two of the Oklahoma City Police Department's newest choppers was in the air. But that time it was using its new upgraded P.A. system,  which police said is hardly ever used.

“We don't use it very often, but the public needs to know that we have that feature available, that we have that tool so that way it doesn't alarm them,” said OCPD Spokesperson, Capt. Paco Balderrama.

It caught Nina Newcomb and her husband Bill off guard.

“It was the first time it talked,” said Newcomb. “I've never heard that before. Once in a while they have choppers out, circling around, but I haven't heard anything like that.”

“It's an added tool that these choppers have for us to be able to communicate with people on the ground,” said Balderrama.

“I was definitely concerned,” said Rayburn.

OCPD launched its two new helicopters last month. The two new helicopters are Airbus AS350B3e's with increased flight time, greater fuel capacity, a larger passenger capacity and double the horse power than the previous MD500E models. Additionally, police said the new helicopters are much safer and less physically taxing on police pilots to fly.

Police said the new features on the AS350B3e's will ultimately increase the helicopters' usefulness in search and rescue missions, night vision abilities and tactical mission capabilities.