NJ teens blind NYPD chopper pilots with laser pointer, cops say
CLIFFSIDE PARK – Two teens were taken into custody after police said they pointed a laser light at a NYPD helicopter and temporarily blinded the pilots as they flew over Harlem.
Borough spokesman William Maer said the light was traced back to Cecelia Place, the highest point in Cliffside Park, where a 17-year-old from Little Ferry and a 16-year-old from Cliffside Park were detained.
The helicopter, NYPD Aviation 20, was tracking a suspect when the light filled its cockpit around 9:30 a.m., Maer said.
Maer said the teens were released to the custody of their parents.
The FAA will investigate, spokeswoman Arlene Salac said.
Knowingly aiming the light of a laser pointer at an aircraft is a federal crime. The lasers can distract pilots during landing and takeoff and can cause temporary blindness.
There were 6,137 reported laser incidents in the United States in 2019, including 52 in New Jersey, according to the FAA. Figures for 2020 have not been posted.
A laser light was pointed at a JetBlue cockpit flying over Paterson on Nov. 23, according to the FAA.
The light appeared to be directed at JetBlue flight 1944 about 8:25 p.m. as it was on approach to Newark Liberty International Airport from West Palm Beach.
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