Be Warned: Eye In The Sky Targets Long Island Drivers

Police in the air are clocking speeders and radioing back to a patrol car on the ground

By Greg Cergol
|  Friday, Jun 18, 2010  |  Updated 5:45 PM EDT
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Be Warned: Eye In The Sky Targets Long Island Drivers

Suffolk County Sheriff's Department

The Suffolk County Sheriff's Department is watching speeders from the sky. Consider yourself warned.

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The sky's no limit for police looking to slow aggressive drivers.

While drivers leaving town for the weekend were scanning the side of the road for patrol cars and officers with ticket books, the Suffolk county Sheriff's department watched them from an unexpected vantage point.

"Nobody really looks up in the air," said Suffolk Sheriff Vincent DeMarco.

But that's exactly where sheriff's deputies patrolled.  They flew over the Long Island Expressway for three hours Friday morning in a two-seat propeller plane on loan from the Bergen County, New Jersey prosecutor's office.

"It's a little bit of a surprise," said DeMarco.

"But it's fair game.  We want to make the roads safer."

The plane tracked aggressive drivers using a camera stationed on its wing.  The sheriff's deputy in the plane then radioed a patrol car on the ground who, in turn, stopped and ticketed the unruly drivers.

In all, 88 tickets were issued for violations like speeding or changing lanes improperly.

"I think it's a violation of my privacy," said driver Mirlande Victor of Selden, when told of the aerial assault.

"I think it's a great idea," countered Al Coppola of Medford. "You take your life in your hands every time you drive on the expressway."

The aircraft was stealth-like in its approach, flying quietly at an altitude of about a thousand feet; so,  drivers had no idea they were being watched from the air - until a patrol car stopped them and a sheriff's deputy delivered a ticket.

"We want people to know we're watching," said DeMarco after the plane's maiden flight was completed.

"We want to use this to change driving habits."

The "spy"  plane will be back later in the busy summer driving season, promises DeMarco.  So, drivers: beware.  You never know when you're being watched.

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