Citizens of Sacramento, Calif., will now know why their police helicopter is circling overhead. The Sacramento Police Department has added some features to its Web site to help citizens find out what the police are doing. When the helicopter is circling an area for a significant period of time, the police department will post details of the mission. The new feature is a helicopter graphic on the left side of the screen that users can click to access the mission log.
The air unit (Air1) flies two Bell OH-58s. The OH-58 is a military version of the Bell 206 civil helicopter. The OH-58 differs from the Bell 206 by having a slower main rotor RPM with a longer rotor blade. Additionally, the OH-58 contains military spec electrical and oil systems. Many police departments were able to acquire them when the U.S. military made surplus airframes available in the 1990s. They are normally operated under a public-use classification, which does not require standard airworthiness certification.
With the addition of daily logs, helicopter location information, Facebook, and Twitter, the department hopes to keep the community more informed. The logs are generated based on reports by patrol sergeants on significant events that occur during their shift. The logs reflect activity from the day before and are normally posted by 9:30 a.m. every day.