Crimewatch: UTPD Air One

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The next time you're at a UT home game, look up. You might just catch a glimpse of APD's new chopper. Thanks to it, the UT campus is a little safer. A UT flight officer is now accompanying Austin police officers up there.

Flying high over the UT campus, everything starts to blend in. It's difficult to know what is what even for the seasoned APD flight officers.

"All the buildings, quite frankly, look the same to us," said APD Flight Officer Wut Tanktaksinanukij.

Come game day when there are at least 100,000 fans in and around the stadium. The campus can be even more difficult to navigate.

Now the APD officers have help. UT police have trained an officer to fly along.

UTPD Chief David Carter, formerly with Austin police, saw the need for a better partnership.

"It's a real opportunity for us," said UTPD Chief David Carter.

The new, larger, Air One chopper recently added to the APD fleet helped make his vision a reality.

"Having our own tactical flight officer supporting APD, that's critical, you can't replace that in terms of exchanging information, learning about the area," said Carter.

The first joint venture was monitoring the first UT home game. The UT tactical flight officer has now been up for all three.

"They're more familiar with the campus. If something comes up they know exactly where we need to go," said Tanktaksinanukij.

This is only the beginning. Carter plans to train three more officers.

Carter wants to be prepared should a critical incident occur like what happened in 2010.

In September of that year, police say 19-year-old Colton Tooley, armed with an AK 47, fired 11 shots on campus before fatally shooting himself inside the Perry-Casteneda Library. Every available local officer descended on the campus.

"When you look at the number of police teams coming onto campus to respond, we're all working for the same mission and that is to keep the campus safe and restore it to safety as soon as possible," said Carter.

Knowing where to go is key, and not just from the sky. Carter wants to improve the relationship between patrol officers on the ground as well.

"There are other programs we'll be looking at such as hostage negotiator development, a whole variety of other teams as well," said Carter.

The sky's the limit.


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