The Ghetto Bird
If you’re looking for the murder rate try Oakland Homicide Count.
You may wonder where the Oakland Police Helicopters have been hiding these last few years.
Our Ghetto Birds, also known as ARGUS which stands for Aerial Reconnaissance Ground Unit Support, have been grounded for the last 2 years. In 2009 budget cuts forced the choppers to stay on the ground… outside of a hanger. Where they been battling weather damage since they were moved form Hangar 1 to the South Field outdoors. I’m not sure of their exact homes at this time but I believe they are still sitting outside where they can sometimes be seen from Hegenberger.
While ARGUS has been grounded it still flew in emergency situations such as the death of four OPD officers in March of 2009 and the Oscar Grant riots. It was even here over my house last month after someone was robbed, shot and killed out front. The ghetto bird was here in seconds so it had to have already been flying on another mission. It was here before the cops or ambulance so I would say it is a valuable asset to Oakland’s Police Department and fighting crime. I also kind of miss the sound of the ghetto bird circling around at night. It’s something I grew up with. I remember when we were kids whenever the ghetto bird was over our hood we would purposely scatter and pretend to be running or hiding. It worked we got spotlighted one night and were all so happy but scared at the same time.
It used to fly about 1,200 hours a year but has only been approved for 200 hours from now until March according to KTVU. While that is not a lot, it’s a start. Currently Oakland is undergoing even more cuts and losing more officers by the year. We’re going down to 600 and were at 802 a year and a half ago.
One simple solution to budget cuts would to be to hop on board the drone train. Congress is forcing the FAA to open up US skies to drones for use by Government Agencies. I feel this could really help keep our budget under wrap and the streets safer. However there are many possible problems as discussed in this article.
Oakland Police Helicopter Facts:
- OPD’s Helicopter Air Support Unit was started in 1971
- ARGUS stands for Aerial Reconnaissance Ground Unit Support. I was told this by two Oakland Police Officers during my High Schools career week in 1996.
- The Helicopter Pilot of ARGUS goes by the call sign of Eagle One when on the radio to dispatch and assisting ground units. I learned this while listening live to a manhunt unfold on a scanner app by the name of Scanner Radio Pro.
- Argus Panoptes was also a giant with a hundred eyes known as the all seeing in Greek Mythology.
- ARGUS crashed in 1973 killing two Oakland Police officers. Several reports say the pilot was shot in the head by a sniper and a group even claimed it yet the final report says it was a mechanical failure even though the pilot had a bullet hole in his head. Fishy?
People often mistake News Choppers for the Oakland Police Helicopter. An easy sure fire way to tell the difference is the Police Helicopter will always circle around it’s targeted area like a Hawk or other bird of prey and at night have a spot light on.
News Helicopters will hover off in the distance usually at a much higher altitude. So I call these Humming Birds because that’s basically what they do.
We used to have two helicopters from what I know and I have even found 2 pictures with two separate “N numbers”(A unique identifier issued by the FAA like a car licenses plate) so it seems we did or still have two. However I can not find any info stating that after the groundings and budget cuts we still have two. Please if you have any insight or something to share contact me.
But as of 2009 two choppers were grounded. So they may both be sitting there.
This is what seems to be the current chopper with the N number N510PD. How funny right? Is it an 0 or an O? It works either way!
And the maybe still second chopper with N number N220PD.
Photos taken by pointnshoot on flickr.
- oakland police helicopter (6)
- oakland pd helicopter argus (3)