Rise in Aircraft Laser-Pointing Puts LA Neighborhoods at Risk

Police helicopters and other low-flying aircraft in Los Angeles are increasingly encountering laser-pointing from individuals on the ground, according to a new report from Crosstown. Public safety officials caution that this dangerous activity puts pilots, passengers and residents at risk. 

The Los Angeles Police Department reported 11 victims who had a laser pointed at them while in an aircraft in July 2022. That is the highest number of incidents in a single month for at least the past decade. The previous high was December 2020 when there were just six incidents reported. 

“Pointing a laser at an airplane or helicopter can render the pilot unable to operate the aircraft and can cause permanent eye damage,” Crosstown notes. “It can be classified as a federal offense. Since 2012, there have been 86 victims of a laser being pointed at an aircraft in the city of Los Angeles; 57% of the victims were in police helicopters.”

Many of the laser-pointing incidents occurred during “street takeovers,” which are also on the rise. As Crosstown notes, the laser-pointing phenomenon is not limited to Los Angeles. Other cities are dealing with this dangerous practice too.