LAPD's Air Fleet & Helicopter Noise in LA
KPCC's series on LAPD's helicopter fleet
The nation’s largest police helicopter fleet lives in downtown Los Angeles. The L.A. Police Department owns and operates 17 helicopters that cover nearly 500 square miles of the city, from the San Fernando Valley to San Pedro.
The LAPD's helicopter fleet logs roughly 18,000 flight hours each year, providing backup for ground officers during pursuits and arrests, and directing the deployment of officers at crime scenes. The department maintains a lot of statistics about where the choppers go and what they do, but it doesn't analyze the data to determine the helicopters' effectiveness as a crime fighting tool.
Not a few Angelenos have been jolted awake by the sound of police helicopters circling their neighborhood. There is a number you can call to inquire about what is happening, but it won't do much good to file a complaint: LAPD policy dictates that the department shall not pursue complaints about noise from low-flying helicopters.
Every day, there are at least two helicopters patrolling the sky in approximately two-hour shifts from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 a.m. KPCC photographers went on an 8:30 a.m. flight that lasted about three hours and took us from south to north.