OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) — An Oklahoma City man was arrested after allegedly pointing a laser at a police helicopter.
The Oklahoma City Police Department reports that 19-year-old Darren Williams has been arrested on a complaint of violation of the Laser Safety Act. Police said you could pay at least $11,000 each time you point it at an aircraft.
"When it hits the canopy or it hits the glass of the helicopter, it's like a sudden burst of light all through there," said Oklahoma City Police Lt. Mike Jackson.
Williams was arrested after pilots in the Oklahoma City Police Department helicopter were flying at approximately 10:30 p.m. June 19 near the 800 block of NE 70 Street. While flying, the pilots stated they were being deliberately targeted by a laser pointer from the ground.
Lt. Jackson told FOX 25 pilots eyes are acclimated for night patrolling.
"So with a bright light like that, it tends to temporarily blind them, which in a helicopter, it's pretty serious," Jackson said.
He said this isn't common, but they've had at least four incidents like this in the last year. Jackson said this is a growing problem.
"So much of a problem that we get reports from the FAA on a weekly basis on laser strikes across the country," Jackson said.
Not only can this cause a pilot to go blind and possibly crash a more than $4 million aircraft, it can cause retinal damage.
"There's a lot of places you can point a laser, a lot of inanimate objects, our helicopters and any aircraft is not one of them," Jackson said.
Williams was later arrested and booked into the Oklahoma County Jail.
This is a state and federal offense. Anyone caught and convicted intentionally pointing a laser at an aircraft could face jail time of up to a year. In 2012, it became a federal offense to point a laser at an aircraft.