Michigan State Police Trooper Mike Roth, a tactical flight officer, left, and Chief Pilot Lt. Patrick Lawrence prepare to shut down helicopter Trooper One at MBS International Airport after a short flight in the blowing snow, Feb. 24, 2015.
SAGINAW, MI — A Freeland man accused of shining a laser pointer at a Michigan State Police helicopter could soon face a federal charge.
Michigan State Police Lt. David Kaiser said the MSP helicopter was flying over Saginaw on March 18 when the flight crew headed to an area where a traffic stop was taking place.
The flight crew reported seeing a flash on the ground before the beam found its way to the helicopter's cockpit, according to Kaiser.
"The third time he was able to hit the chopper with it and lit up the cockpit," Kaiser said.
The flight crew located where it was coming from and provided information to police on the ground.
Kaiser said a man there was located and interviewed. Police said he told them that he bought the laser because he thought it was cool. He also said he did not know it was a police helicopter he was aiming at, police allege.
The man was arrested and is expected to be charged with aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft, which is a five-year federal felony.
Kaiser said there is no state law addressing the issue.
Trooper Nick Olivo, tactical flight officer with the MSP, said laser pointers interfere with the safe operation of an aircraft.
"The beam expands from the ground," Olivo said. "It can fill the cockpit and blind the pilot."
Olivo said that commercial airliners also are targeting frequently.
"When they get it they don't have the ability to direct law enforcement to it as we do," he said.
In January, another laser beam was aimed at an MSP helicopter that was patrolling Saginaw. There was another incident last week in Detroit, Kaiser said.
The Freeland man's name is being withheld pending arraignment.
Original article can be found here: http://www.mlive.com
Michigan State Police Trooper Mike Roth, a tactical flight officer, walks onto the tarmac to board helicopter Trooper One at MBS International Airport, Feb. 24, 2015.
Michigan State Police Chief Pilot Lt. Patrick Lawrence prepares helicopter Trooper One for flight at MBS International Airport, Feb. 24, 2015.
Michigan State Police Trooper Mike Roth, a tactical flight officer, prepares to board helicopter Trooper One at MBS International Airport, Feb. 24, 2015.
Michigan State Police helicopter Trooper One lands on the tarmac at MBS International Airport, Feb. 24, 2015.
Michigan State Police helicopter Trooper One is equipped with a forward looking infrared thermal imaging system that tracks heat signatures on the ground while flying over Saginaw, Feb. 24, 2015.