Highway Patrol uses airplane to catch speeders


On a straight piece of highway, it's not easy for a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper to do traffic enforcement. But with the help of a plane flying 2,000 feet above, the highway patrol has another tool to keep the roadways safe. With 14 aircraft across the state of Missouri, the MSHP Aircraft Division's main job is traffic enforcement. In 2015, the Aircraft Division assisted with writing 15,072 citations or warnings. When the division does traffic enforcement, they use three sets of pre-painted "blocks" on the roadway that are measured at 660 feet, or 1/8th of a mile, apart. The pilot uses a stopwatch to time how fast a car crosses through those blocks. The stopwatch is calibrated to the 1/8 mile distance, and is able to give the pilot a speed. The pilot and a trooper on the ground always do a test to make sure the stopwatch and the ground trooper's speedometer are calibrated correctly. When a car crosses the first blocks, the pilot starts his stop watch. When he crosses the second set, he stops the first stopwatch and starts a second stop watch. When the car finally passes through the third set, the pilot stops the second stop watch. The pilot uses these two speeds to determine if the driver is speeding. If the pilot feels the driver is speeding, he will radio to a ground trooper waiting they have a violator. The pilot will tell the ground trooper the color and style of the car, which lane the car is in, and what cars are around the speeding car; any details to give the trooper a better indication of which car needs to be pulled over. Once the trooper gets behind the correct car, the pilot will tell him and the trooper will pull the speeding car off to the shoulder. Once the pilot sees both the trooper and the speeding car on the shoulder, he is able to end visual contact with the violator. The ground trooper will then write the ticket or warning for speeding as well as any other violations the ground trooper sees including if a seat belt was being used. Once that is complete, the ground trooper relays what citations or warnings he's written back to the pilot. In addition to traffic enforcement, the division also helps with search and rescues, manhunts, and pursuits. Using helicopters, the Aircraft Division can access otherwise inaccessible areas such as cliffs and bluffs, or conducting a water rescue when someone is stuck in a flooded home or car. They also assist in locating people, whether they are criminals or lost children. Being in the air, the pilots can see things that otherwise wouldn't be visible from a ground prospective. Being able to have a plane above a pursuit, the MSHP is able to take law enforcement on the ground out of a potentially dangerous situation. The pilot can safely follow the suspect and allow other officers to get in position ahead of the suspect. 

Source: abc17