Lancashire plodcopters in laser dazzle outrage outbreak
Blind justice meted out to presentational-aid yob trio
It now appears that laser-pointer pilot dazzle attacks have joined the hilarious satnav-inspired motoring blunder as a staple of news kibble, with the global presentational-aid-related airborne blinding epidemic now devastating the skies above Lancashire.
The BBC reports that the latest ocular outrage occurred last night above the town of Nelson during a high-speed police helicopter chase. A Lancashire Constabulary law-copter pilot, pursuing fleeing miscreants in a ground vehicle, was suddenly targeted from below by a man, 45, wielding a deadly "laser pen," whose "beam was shone into his eyes. He could not see and was forced to take evasive action.
"Lancashire Police said the incident on Wednesday night could have resulted in a crash and multiple injuries or deaths."
The potentially horrific shock incident follows hard on the heels of a pair of similar implicitly murderous beam-blinding assaults against Lancashire whirly-plods last week. In apparently unrelated attacks, men, 20 and 43, of Manchester and Reddish respectively, fired dastardly dazzle beams at orbiting copper-choppers.
All this comes mere weeks after angry Australian politicians reclassified laser pointers as deadly weapons. The smackdown down under was prompted by a spate of conceivably catastrophic coherent-light strikes against airliners, cop-copters and even a traffic chopper - though in that last case the attack was actually delivered by an avant garde discoball modern art installation modelled on convict-era eel traps.
One might note, however, that the airborne lawmen of Lancashire seem to be one up on their Australian opposite numbers. In all three recently reported cases, partially blinded police pilots turned on their assailants and quickly located them using thermal cameras. Retribution was swift, with vengeful groundborne plods arriving speedily to bracelet the optical offenders.®
Minor points: Police helicopters are not piloted by Police Officers. Why go to all the time and expense of training one up when there are plenty of experienced combat trained ex-military pilots only too happy to do the job?
Armed officers have no real use for laser dot aiming on firearms as all they effectively do are to give away your position; not too clever when you're cammed up in a containment position. The much favoured Eotech HDS sights contain their 'red dot' internally within the parallax-free holographic display and are much more effective.
Tasers, on the other hand, use visible laser sight painting to both: a) enable quick firing from any hand/arm position and b) to act as an effective deterant which they invariably do in the majority of deployments, this is also why they are purchased in high viz yellow. Tasers of course can only be used at close quarters and are all but useless in containments.
Time for my input
I own more than my fair share of lasers, pointers and otherwise. I even own a 200mW red laser pointer which burns through bin liners at distances of many meters. I’m also a bit of a geek and know a bit about the biology of the eye.
It is possible to hold a laser steady onto a target, use the same technique as holding a camera for a long exposure shot – rest it on something!!!
I know there is a safe minimum height for a stationary helicopter but I don’t know the value, but it won’t be miles high; hence the pilot needn't have been far away.
Lasers can be really powerful; for not much money can get you something photometrically blinding (ignoring the lack of IR filtering). Worse still is that this happened at night (10:30pm); therefore the pilot’s vision will be more sensitive. It takes hours to build up the sensitivity but only seconds undo it. Light of green and blue wavelengths will achieve this (that’s why proper sunglasses tend to look red/brown) – chances are the pointer was a green one. Therefore the pilot is indeed at risk of being properly blinded.
The comparison with disco lights is false because the beam scanner will keep the beam in one’s vision for the tiniest fraction of a second, way before a dangerous amount of energy has built up – that’s why laser speed cameras are safe even though they can pump out a peak power of over 30 WATTS (yes you read that correctly - I know because I own one and I am an authority on them).
And as someone already said, there was malicious intent, not to mention obstruction of an officer in the execution of his duty. Would you let a failed murderer go free simply because he failed in his attempt to kill? I hope that idiot gets what he deserves – clink!
They located the guys shining the lasers... sent some footplods to arrest them... and (presumably) prosecuted them under existing laws..?
So we don't need an additional law to stop this behaviour, as the Australian government decided in their wisdom..?
Ouch, my brain hurts, I can't cope with the concept of not needing any more laws.