City of Sacramento Police Department

Chief of Police
5770 Freeport Blvd., Suite 100
Sacramento, CA  95822-3516

(916) 808-0800
Fax : (916) 808-0818


For Immediate Release No. 20120719-100
Thursday, July 19, 2012

Laser Pointers Can Land You in Jail

The Sacramento Police Department would like to remind the public that pointing handheld laser devices at aircrafts at night isn't only dangerous, it's illegal. 

Many of us are familiar with laser pointers used in business settings and have even seen them at pet stores as play devices for animals.  When used for their intended purpose, they are harmless.  However, when individuals point these handheld lasers at aircrafts, it could mean disaster.  

Shining a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft at night causes sudden night blindness, making it extremely difficult for pilots to safely navigate and or land their unit.  Although permanent vision damage to flight crews is rare, the intense refracted light from the cockpit glass can cause temporary blindness.  The sensation has been compared to stepping into the bright sunlight after spending time inside a movie theater. 

Suspects often think authorities won't be able to catch them due to the extreme distance between them and the aircraft, however, they are wrong. 

On the night of July 7, 2011, the Sacramento Police Department's Helicopter (Air1) was working an unrelated call in North Sacramento when they were targeted with a handheld laser, four separate times.  The aircrew used GPS technology on the helicopter to identify the source of the laser, which was pinpointed to a specific residence.  Ground units made contact with the 45-year-old suspect and found him to be in possession of the laser.  That subject was arrested and was recently found guilty on all four felony counts of maliciously discharging a laser at an aircraft.

Sacramento Police Media Relations · (916) 808-0808 ·

The Mission of the Sacramento Police Department is to work in partnership with the Community to
protect life and property, solve neighborhood problems, and enhance the quality of life in our City.