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'An outstanding bird': Tulsa Police Department debuts new helicopter

Tulsa Police New Helicopter
Posted at 9:49 PM, Apr 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-17 11:01:43-04

TULSA, Okla. — There are some things that Tulsa police officers on the ground can’t see.

A new helicopter is their eye in the sky.

It is an Airbus AS 3503B, or in simpler terms, a really fancy helicopter.

"No longer is night a cloak for the bad guys," Chief helicopter pilot Byron Barnhart said.

That is thanks to what they call the “night sun," a spotlight with the power of 40 million candles, and the $600,000 camera up front.

While Barnhart is in the air, he "can see you just as plain as we're seeing you now," he said during an interview with 2 News Oklahoma. "It’s not just humans. Barnhart says the camera can pick up the VIN of cars. They typically fly 500-700 feet in the air."

"We have been shot at in the air," Barnhart said.

It happened back in December. Unlike the older white one, the black paint job is meant to match new squad cars, but that's not all.

"We are trying to make the aircraft a little more stealthy," Barnhart said.

The helicopter was delivered from Louisiana in early April. The purchase has been in the works since 2020, and city leaders wanted to prioritize safety.

"That’s why you see such an outstanding bird: The City of Tulsa saw that we needed it, and they stepped up and bought it," TPD Deputy Chief Dennis Larsen said.

The final bill was about $5 million. They expect to have it on patrol in the near future.

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