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.