Police helicopters becoming commonplace
Judi Villa and Dennis Wagner
PHOENIX, Ariz. — Faced with urban sprawl, increasing calls for service and a shortage of police officers, law enforcement agencies nationwide are using helicopters to get to crime and accident scenes faster.
Law enforcement officials say the air patrols reduce risks for officers on the ground and give them a better chance of catching criminals.
"It's the wave of the future," says Paul Apolinar, a helicopter pilot with the Phoenix Police Department. "We're able to get overhead ahead of the patrol officers and increase our chances of apprehending the bad guy."
Helicopters, in particular, have proved especially popular since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, with agencies starting up fleets or upgrading their