By the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office
Nature of Incident: Ventura County helicopter crew experiences laser strike
Report Number: 23-124246
Location: Oxnard / Port Hueneme / Camarillo
Date & Time: 09-23-2023 / 1930-2245 hours
Unit(s) Responsible: Ventura County Sheriff’s Office / Ventura County Fire Department: (S)suspects, unknown Oxnard / Camarillo
Narrative: On the evening of 09-23-2023, Ventura County Copter 3 was conducting patrol operations when the crew chief and pilot experienced three separate laser strike incidents.
The first and second laser strikes occurred in the city of Oxnard and nearby Port Hueneme around 2000 hours. The third laser strike occurred in the City of Camarillo at approximately 2230 hours. During each laser strike, the crew was unable to locate the origin of the laser. While pointing a laser at an aircraft may seem harmless, it can impair the crew’s ability to safely fly the aircraft and can cause permanent damage to their eyes. A laser strike has its own penal code section created for it due to the risk to the general public caused by an incapacitated or blinded pilot (Section 247.5 PC discharge of a laser at an aircraft). This section carries a maximum term in state prison of 3 years.
247.5. Any person who willfully and maliciously discharges a laser at an aircraft, whether in motion or in flight, while occupied, is guilty of a violation of this section, which shall be punishable as either a misdemeanor by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year or by a fine of one thousand dollars ($1,000), or a felony by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for 16 months, two years, or three years, or by a fine of two thousand dollars ($2,000)
The Ventura County Aviation Unit is a partnership between the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office and the Ventura County Fire Department. Together the agencies provide staffing to the unit and respond to a variety of missions to include firefighting, search and rescue, medical calls, and law enforcement. The unit is staffed 365 days a year with highly trained Firefighters and Deputy Sheriffs. The Aviation Unit patrols and responds to all cites and areas of Ventura County regardless of which municipal police or fire department has primary jurisdiction.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank members of the public for their on-going support and due diligence in providing information to assist our agency in solving crimes. We are better at what we do because of our community partnerships.
Ventura County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 reward for information, which leads to the arrest and criminal complaint against the person(s) responsible for this crime. The caller may remain anonymous. The call is not recorded. Call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).