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Pointing lasers at an aircraft is not only dangerous, it's illegal, police say

Aug 23, 2023


Gwinnett County Police are warning people about the dangers of pointing lasers at aircraft. It is not only dangerous for the people in the air, but also the people on the ground. It has happened twice to the police department's aviation unit in the last two weeks, investigators say.

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga - Gwinnett County Police are warning people about the dangers of laser beams pointed at aircraft. It has happened to their aviation unit twice in eight days.

Police say it is dangerous for the pilot and those on the ground.

Last week, the Gwinnett County Police Aviation Unit was conducting night patrols over Interstate 85, when someone pointed a green laser at the chopper.

Pilots say once the light hits the cockpit, the blinding light makes it nearly impossible to see and it can even temporarily blind them. They cannot see their instruments or gauges.

"This is dangerous not only to our pilots, but to the community," said Officer Hideshi Valle.

From the air, the pilot could see the general area where the green beam of light was coming from. He zoomed in and was able to pinpoint a home.

"Once they were able to narrow down where the laser was coming from, they were able to get with uniformed officers on the ground," said Officer Valle.

Officers on the ground went to the house and found a man with a laser and arrested him.

Tuesday, there was another laser strike on the Gwinnett County Police Aviation Unit.

This time, police say a 14-year-old boy was pointing the laser at the helicopter.

"While it does happen, it is unusual that we have two so close together," said Officer Valle.

Now, police are urging people not to point a laser at any aircraft. They say it is illegal and dangerous.

"Any type of laser that you might own, an electronic toy, or something you use in an office setting, it should never be pointed at an aircraft," said Officer Valle.

Hitting an aircraft with a laser is a state and federal crime. Police say all incidents in Gwinnett County are investigated and referred to the FAA and FBI for prosecution.

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