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Local man gets visit from police after shining laser light at helicopter

Laser light device confiscated from a Ferndale man after it was pointed at a CBP helicopter crew (September 10, 2019). Photo courtesy of Ferndale Police Department

FERNDALE, Wash. — A helicopter crew flying over Ferndale last night reported a laser light was shined at their aircraft from residence on Portal Way shortly after 10pm on Tuesday, September 10th.

The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) helicopter crew reported the laser incident to the What-Comm Dispatch Center who then notified Ferndale Police according to radio transmissions.

According to Ferndale Police, the helicopter crew hovered overhead while directing officers to a property in the 6300 block of Portal Way. The officers made contact with an adult male on the property and asked if he owned a laser. He said he had just purchased 1 online. When asked if he had been shining it at the helicopter the man told officers he did to test to see “how far it would shine.”

The officers advised the man it was a crime to point a laser at aircraft and confiscated the laser device which could be used as evidence in the event CBP officials pursue charges in Federal Court.

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According to the FAA, aiming a laser at an aircraft creates a serious safety risk and violates federal law. A conviction for interfering with an aircraft crew via a laser can result in a sentence of 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said there were 5,663 laser incidents reported in the US in 2018 and 2,604 as of June 15th this year.

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