Person with laser blinds pilot, South Dakota police

Green laser that blinds police, pilots (Photo courtesy KDLT)

MITCHELL, SD – (KDLT) – Police in Mitchell, South Dakota are looking for the person who is shining a laser pointer at planes and at police officers.

Late last month, the FAA contacted Mitchell authorities claiming that a pilot flying to Minneapolis was blinded by the light.

This is not just a harmless prank.  It is a federal crime.

Lieutenant Don Everson has spent 22 years on the Mitchel Police Department.

“This is the first time I remember anything of this nature reported to our department,” said Everson. “A lot of people don’t understand this little light is a big deal you know 4 or 5 miles away.”

On September 21st a Minneapolis air traffic controller notified Mitchell police that a pilot was blinded by a laser in Mitchell.

Officers were dispatched but didn’t locate anyone.

But this wasn’t the first time.

“We had two officers that were illuminated with a green laser light,” said Everson.

Five days earlier two officers reported that they, too, were hit with the laser.

Lt. Everson says this creates two major concerns.

“Possible eye injury. I think all of these devices come with a warning to point at the head or eyes,” said Everson.

But to an officer, the laser light is not something to take lightly, it could illicit a more aggressive response.

“A lot of laser lights are used as rifle sights, and if you are illuminated with a laser there is concern that someone’s pointing a gun at you,” said Everson.

 

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