SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY -- The Falcon One Zero is the newest member of the Stockton Police Department and officers say it is set to make the city safer.
“It’s absolutely amazing to have that tool,” said Stockton Police Chief Pilot Daniel Lowry.
The helicopter is outfitted with a day and night camera, a searchlight and a public address system.
Lowry said the chopper gives the police department not only a better view but better control.
“Now, we’re able to track people from the air when they may or may not even know that we’re above them and there’s no getting away from the aircraft,” he told FOX40.
The helicopter came with a hefty $3 million price tag.
“Secured this through government funding,” Lowry said. “It wouldn’t have occurred if it weren’t part of the governor’s budget from the last cycle.”
Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones said the costs to continuously operate the helicopter will come from the city’s general fund.
“This really is a game-changer for the city of Stockton and our fight on crime,” Jones said.
The chief explained the helicopter will be used about four days out of the week and in critical incidents.
“It's not going to invade privacy. It’s not going to be used for just general surveillance of the population. It’s not going to look into windows of a home unless there’s a crime exigency,” he said. “Criminal apprehensions, looking for missing persons, possibly for natural disasters. It’s so critical that we have a tool like this for public safety here within our county.”
Jones said the helicopter has already helped officers nab two suspected car thieves, which Chief Pilot Lowry believes is just the beginning of their work up in the air.
“That was kind of a big boost,” he said. “It just shows that the aircraft is obviously needed here and there’s a lot of big things that it’s going to do.”
Chief Jones added they may be able to assist nearby cities that do not have helicopters with searches.
The police department also believes the helicopter will help reduce the number of hours spent on searches.