Help in the Sky Above

October 30, 2008 12:09:04 AM PDT
Bad guys beware ... there's a new crime fighting tool in the air helping south Valley law enforcement.Most of the time Ron Overacker is an instructor at Blue Sky Aviation in Tulare but now he has a new responsibility. Overacker is an on-call crime fighter working for local police agencies who can't afford to pay for full-time air support. When he's up in the air pursuing the bad guy, Overacker said the seriousness of the situation takes over.

"It's not apprehension it's very determined. We really need to get there. We really need to get the helicopter in this certain position," said Overacker.

The Robinson R-44 helicopter can cover a lot of ground in little time and can reach places where there are no roads for miles. Overacker first presented his idea to the Tulare police department in June. They tried it out for a month, and then signed on.

Now whenever officers need help they have an eye in the sky. Overacker: "We're able to support the officers and give them the perspective that they don't have." Not only does commander Overacker help Tulare police but also Exeter, Farmersville and Porterville where he helped police capture some thieves on top of a roof.

"We were able to talk the officers on to them. The responding units weren't able to see back behind the building structures," recounted Overacker.

Residents said they hope to see a reduction in local crime now the R-44 is in the sky. Tulare's Sylvia Price said: "The more we can support our police officers the better we're gonna be, the safer we're gonna be."

"Without that they don't know what's going on. I mean the police department can't be everywhere all the time," said Artie Carrasco of Tulare.

This isn't a free service to police. Overacker does charge them but he said there's no limit to how many times he can go up in the air.

Overacker hopes his next customers will be Visalia P.D. and the County sheriff's office ... both don't have regular air support.

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