Progress report on “Eye in the Sky”

The Law Enforcement Aerial Platform System (LEAPS) was launched on Friday, August 24.

LANCASTER – The Lancaster Sheriff’s Station held a press conference Thursday to provide an update on the city’s newest crime fighting tool – the Law Enforcement Aerial Platform System (LEAPS). (Read more about the system here.)

“It’s been good, but we anticipate that it’s going to be improving as the weeks go on,” said Lancaster Sheriff’s Station Lieutenant Pat Nelson.

Nelson said since LEAPS launched about five weeks ago, the piloted Cessna 172, fitted with high-tech optical equipment, has surveilled the city at cruising altitudes of 3,000 feet, for 10 hours a day, seven days a week, with built in breaks for refueling when necessary.

Lt. Pat Nelson speaks at a press conference Thursday.

Like with any new project, there have been some difficulties in getting some of the bugs ironed out, Nelson said.

“But those are steadily improving, and we’ve had some good success with the camera over the last couple of weeks,” Nelson said.

He said the new system has been especially effective for crime scene containments, providing immediate assessments of situations before ground units can get to the scene.

Less than a week after LEAPS was launched, the aircraft assisted the Los Angeles Police Department in catching a man wanted in connection with a double homicide, authorities said.  Upon receiving the call for assistance, LEAPS was dispatched to the area and, within seconds, obtained an aerial view of the apartment complex where the suspect was thought to be hiding. Using this information, the LAPD’s units were able to successfully contain the area and take the suspect into custody without incident (read more here).

Nelson said there have been other situations over the past couple of weeks that demonstrate the capabilities of the new crime fighting tool.

“We had a burglary alarm tripped on a business on Sierra Highway,” Nelson said. “The camera operator [for LEAPS] was able to focus on the business almost immediately, well before the ground units were able to get to the location.”

LEAPS zoned in on a vehicle leaving the parking lot of the business and tracked the vehicle to a different location, and then deputies responded to the location and detained the occupant, Nelson said.

The occupant in the vehicle turned out to be the owner of the business who had accidentally tripped the alarm when he left. Still, the incident demonstrates how useful the aerial surveillance system can be, Nelson said.

“Had it been a burglary, it would have been a great example,” he added.

LEAPS was also helpful in locating a missing juvenile two weeks ago, Nelson said.

“There was some concern that this juvenile may be suicidal,” he said. “We were able to use the LEAPS system for a period of several hours and ultimately assist in locating this juvenile.”

The youth was later determined not to be suicidal and was returned safely to his family.

“The concept of LEAPS is going to be a great tool in our toolbox, probably most importantly, for allowing almost immediate intelligence for ground units that are responding to a call,” Nelson said.

Read previous articles on the Law Enforcement Aerial Platform System below:

LEAPS aids capture of double murder suspect

‘Eye in the Sky’ takes off

ACLU to scrutinize ‘Eye in the Sky’

‘Eye in the Sky’ gets City Council approval

Fighting crime from the air: City announces new aerial surveillance system

  33 comments for “Progress report on “Eye in the Sky”

  1. Barry Bigtoe
    December 24, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    It’s half as effective and many times more expensive then helicopters we already have. Officials are already claiming hero status for finding an apartment that was already surrounded. The privacy issue is valid, but that is not the real problem. In the pursuit of making this mess look like it is worthwhile, they will turn from penniless criminals to targets that have potential money, YOU! Property owners will begin getting citations from Code Enforcement on patios, sheds or fences that may have questionable permit status. That RV in your backyard that isn’t sitting on a concrete slab, Violation! Or the concrete slab under your RV is not permitted, Violation! Coming to your mailbox soon will be your generous donation to this invasion of privacy that you are already taxed on. It will start with a campaign to “protect you from dangerous construction by local criminals out to destroy your neighborhood”. You will quickly pay your fine to avoid your name in the paper so the easily misled idiots with pitchforks and torches don’t chase you out of town.

  2. Sandrita
    September 29, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    I agree that it is expensive, but we need statistical data as to how much money is saved with the $ 90,000.00 spent per month.
    I’ve seen some crimes that could have been stopped, i.e. car running red light, a lot of people jay-walking (some with young children), shoplifting, people begging for money (way too many for this area).
    It should be shared with Palmdale, and I don’t understand why it is not. An invisible wall does not exist between Lancaster and Palmdale.

    • Quigley
      September 29, 2012 at 2:37 pm

      Disagree…the wall is up and so is the west verses the east in both cities…the lines have been drawn for sometime now.

  3. Quigley
    September 29, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    HUGE waste of taxpayer $$$….Rexipoo is stealing our tax $$$’s so he can play airplane and he should be paying for it himself…slap down that American Express Rexipoo and pay for your own damn toys!

  4. HM
    September 29, 2012 at 11:42 am

    “J” that is so very mature of you and your friends… you ought to be so proud! but, only the ones that are guilty of something should be bothered by it..

    • T-Bone
      September 29, 2012 at 11:46 am

      Not True HM! Speak for yourself not all…It is like you having a BBQ and the Sheriff stands on your patio while it is going on, just to watch. I don’t care if you have done something wrong or not, nobody likes that!

    • J
      September 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm

      HM “only the ones that are guilty of something should be bothered by it.”
      Well I’m not guilty of anything and I know lots of others that are law abiding tax paying citizens that have a massive problem with this Big Brother garbage. This is a total invasion of privacy on all of us.

      • Maria
        September 29, 2012 at 1:47 pm

        I personally don’t have a problem with it. “J” you might want to do some research on rights to privacy. Florida v. Riley, 488 U.S. 445 (1989)[1], was a United States Supreme Court decision which held that police officials do not need a warrant to observe an individual’s property from public airspace.

    • Tired of their ways
      September 29, 2012 at 2:45 pm

      I agree with HM we need to use everything we can get to keep those [removed] in their cages…should not be worried unless of you have something to hide.. rather see my tax payers money going to this instead of sections 8er’s and welfare cockroaches from compton..

      • getYOURlife.COM
        October 11, 2012 at 2:09 am

        LANCASTER, A FESTERING HOT BED FOR MISERABLE RACISTS (WHITE SUPREMACISTS) who should just be eliminated. Why waste money on cages for Racists?

        • matt
          November 4, 2012 at 1:48 pm

          Don’t like it move… I sleep easier these days

  5. J
    September 29, 2012 at 11:19 am

    This cop says no one has complained about it flying above our city, well I know plenty of people that got a problem with it. One evening we watched this thing fly over my friends house at least 15 times, we all gave it the middle finger salute. Zoom your camera in on that R Rex Fascist.

  6. qhr
    September 28, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    Wasn’t there a burglary earlier this week involving crooks coming through the roof of a liquor store with $15k in booze and cigars. Where was the eye???

    • Javier
      September 28, 2012 at 11:45 pm

      Yeah but that robbery was is Palmdale and it happened at night. As I understand it the aircraft only flies in the day for a few limited hours (10). And then only in Lancaster.

      I am not convinced this program is cost effective, I hope I’m wrong.

      • T-Bone
        September 29, 2012 at 7:18 am

        That is the thing, All of this is for Lancaster Only not the whole AV! Palmdale does not get Patroled by this Great Aircraft but they do not get charged either! Waste!

      • Adam Chant
        September 29, 2012 at 8:04 pm

        No it flies at night all the time. I have seen it numerous times and I often post status on my FB profile. Where I live in QH I can see it make the turn from Fox and fly up Ave L toward Lancaster.
        There aren’t a whole lot of Cessna’s doing night flights out of Fox so chances are it’s LEAPS..
        Now can it actually see anything worth SQUAT at night? Probably not.

  7. Turd Ferguson
    September 28, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    LEAPS is a joke.Waste of taxpayer dollars.$90,000.00 a month.We do not need LEAPS.We need boots on the ground.We have great sherriffs.They need boots on the ground.Not a useless plane.We need LEAPS to answer false burglar alarms?For $90,000.00 a month?Very expensive security system.Stop the waste now.Say no to LEAPS.Say yes to more boots on the ground.Look at all the sherriffs departments lining up to buy LEAPS.Let us count them.Zero.Zero.Zero.If we need air survelliance,we have sherriffs heliocopter.We rarely need it.We don’t spend $90,000.00 a month on sherriffs heliocoper.LEAPS is a waste.

    • Adam Chant
      September 29, 2012 at 9:37 pm

      It’s obvious you have no concept of money in relation to employing people let alone LASD deputies.
      While in the scope of what you probably make, the cost of LEAPS seems expensive, but in the scope of boots on the ground it only would cover a half dozen deputies at best.

      You know by your same logic we could stop purchasing vehicles for the deputies and not send them to extended training too. Then all of that saved money would put even more boots on the ground.

      It’s not possible or very effective to put a deputy on every street corner. Having a solution that can supplement available boots on the ground without having to neglect any areas of patrol is an efficient use of resources.

      If they figure out how to do this in the next year of usage (before it becomes a real monthly cost) then it will be a very good solution. If they don’t then at that time we all need to do everything we can to stop it.
      Then Rex can eat some crow and admit it was a good idea that didn’t work.

      • Turd Ferguson
        October 1, 2012 at 9:09 pm

        I understand the money involved.We are paying $90,000.00 a month for nothing.We already pay the sherriffs department for their heliocopter.We are not paying an extra $90,000.00 for a plane that produces no results.It is not needed.We already have a heliocopter from the sherriffs.That we already paid for in our contract.This LEAPS is just a money grab.This is not hard to see.Open your eyes.We pay the sherriffs already for their heliocopter.Why are we also paying for LEAPS?We are paying for something we do not need.We already have air coverage with the sherriffs heliocopter if we need it.We rarely need it.We now have LEAPS at $90,000.00 a month.For what?Waste of taxpayer money.Spend it on boots on the ground.You say seven sherriffs.I say that is seven more than we have.And seven more jobs than we have.Frank Visco does not need the money.He has lots of money.Seven more sherriffs would make a difference.A sherriff can go to schools and talk to kids.Talk to them about being good.A sherriff can be on the street.A sherriff can drive in a car where people can see.We need more sherriffs.We do not need LEAPS.Waste of $90,000.00 a month.We all know it.We all know it. We all know it.LEAPS does not supplement boots on the ground.It takes away from putting more boots on the ground.LEAPS is a joke.

        • AV
          October 1, 2012 at 10:46 pm

          Turd, is the helicopter provided free of charge or does the city pay additional money for it by the hour when called?

  8. Rob
    September 28, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    “difficulties in getting some of bugs ironed out” in an aircraft flying overhead? Wow that is confidence building. I hope it is safer then it sounds. Please stop wasting resources on this egregious violation of our 4th amendment rights. Allocate these resources instead to Sheriff man-hours on the ground, where the crime is.

    • Adam Chant
      September 28, 2012 at 4:16 pm

      The bugs are probably telemetry related. It’s a lot harder than they expected to get a consistent data stream to the ground. Between antenna types and dish, plus tracking a moving object it’s not easy.

    • Maria
      September 29, 2012 at 1:56 pm

      According to the United States Supreme Court there is no violation of the 4th Amendment. Check out Florida v. Riley, 488 U.S. 445 (1989)[1]. The decision which held that police officials do not need a warrant to observe an individual’s property from public airspace.

      • Rob
        October 1, 2012 at 5:53 am

        Yes read the opinions of Florida v. Riley and verify the case is relevant to searching a specific residence with a helicopter flying at low level and Officers using unenhanced eyesight. This case did not involve general patrolling with high-tech, high resolution, infra-red technology.

        Put the $$ on the ground where the crime occurs.

  9. T-Bone
    September 28, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    What I get from this is…

    It has done nothing to improve anything! Ok, you got an owner of a business leaving his business, What about the Burgularies that were real?? And the LAPD already had the guy surrounded! The plane did nothing to help capture him! And for the Temper tantrum girl, she was going to be safe anyway!

    Sell the Plane and admit it was a bad call to purchase it. Cut your losses now to avoid wasting more of our taxes!

    • matt
      November 4, 2012 at 1:51 pm

      Speak for yourself. I’m more than happy to pay an extra buck a month or less for this security. It’d be nice to have a clean safe city again

  10. Nick Altieri
    September 28, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    I have called city hall on numerous occasions asking if you can look in my backyard while my 16 year old daughter is sunbathing topless. Nobody will answer me. They are always out of the office, unavailable or something. Never call back or follow through. So what is the answer is the Police/Sheriffs Dept looking over my back fence or not?

    • Steve Brown
      September 28, 2012 at 2:04 pm

      If your 16 year old daughter is sunbathing topless
      You should be questioned as a parent.
      Tell her to put her top on and no problems right
      If you know it’s up there take precautions and don’t
      Sunbath topless. DUH!!!!

      • anotherdummy
        September 28, 2012 at 2:16 pm

        I think the question was more rhetorical in order to (albeit graphically) illustrate the intrusion of privacy LEAPS makes people feel exists. At least I hope that was the point. As i hope this scenario is fabricated. Otherwise, I agree entirely. Mosey neighbors looking over the fence, neighbors working on their roofs, or random low flying aircraft can all peep at your daughter.

        • anotherdummy
          September 28, 2012 at 2:19 pm

          My apologies for the numerous typos above. Giant thumbs on a tiny phone :-/

    • Scott Pelka
      September 28, 2012 at 2:30 pm

      You can bet if your daughter was videoed topless someone has already saved and sheared the video with their friends. I wouldn’t trust anybody in this city govt.

    • Concered
      September 28, 2012 at 3:52 pm

      Where do you live?

    • T-Bone
      September 29, 2012 at 11:52 am

      I am kind of wondering why you are all fantasizing about a 16yr girl anyway! Pervs! Get some help!

Comments are closed.