The OPD helicopter and pilot Jon Vanerwegen who prefers his…

The OPD helicopter and pilot Jon Vanerwegen who prefers his .45 auto GLOCK.

Recently, an Oakland police officer tried to perform a traffic stop on a suspected stolen car. The driver tried to flee in his white SUV, driving recklessly and soon hitting another vehicle carrying three people. The SUV, wrecked and smoking, was on the shoulder of a side street—the other vehicle was disabled. The suspect then got out and bolted into the suburban residential area, leaving the three people, two of them children, sitting dazed but unhurt. Arriving OPD units quickly blocked and controlled the intersecting roads and set up a perimeter around the area where the subject escaped.


To best utilize their law enforcement manpower, the OPD organized a Designated Arrest Team (DAT) to perform a house-by-house, yard-by-yard search. The team was centered on an accompanying K-9 unit whose handler was experienced in tracking and locating subjects hidden in urban, suburban or wooded terrain. Briefed and armed, the DAT set out to find the perp.

The use of overhead observation provides excellent protection.


Alerted by the radio, OPD pilots Joe Villalobos and Jon Vanerwegen quickly prepped and pre-flighted the department’s McDonnell Douglas MD 500 “Little Bird” helicopter. In just a few minutes, the pilots got clearance from ground control, added power, pulled pitch and were airborne over Oakland. The powerful helicopter provided excellent aerial observation and surveillance to assist the search and ensure the safety of officers on the ground.

In-bird video on page 2.

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