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A new technology connects law enforcement helicopters with ground support using the internet connectivity instead of radios.

The San Diego Police Department is getting new value from its connected helicopters powered by AT&T. The police department uses its Airborne Law Enforcement helicopter fleet to protect San Diegans as crime or other events unfold. Previously, tactical flight officers were unable to access the department’s computer-aided dispatch system that provides officers on the ground with up-to-date information about evolving incidents.

The AT&T wireless LTE network and specially-designed, highly-secure internet connectivity now lets the tactical flight officers wirelessly connect ruggedized tablets to police communications and dispatch systems while in the air. Upon completing their mission, airborne police can use the AT&T technology to follow-up on older or overdue calls. They can handle cases that rely on visual inspection like a damaged property or vehicle report, freeing up officers on the ground to respond to other calls, according to the company’s announcement on

Mayor Kevin Faulconer said: “This idea came directly from one of our officers and AT&T was enthusiastic about working with us to make it a reality. This now gives officers in the air powerful new tools to keep our neighborhoods safe.”

The new solution means more efficient use of the helicopter fleet. It also speeds and optimizes crime caseload management.  

Chief of police Shelley Zimmerman said. “Our ‘Connected Copters’ are just the latest example of how we can make our city better through technology.”

The new technology can help officers locate and track the helicopters while airborne with the solution’s integration to the helicopter’s onboard GPS. It also logs and provides post-flight mission reporting, which includes helicopter coverage trails and flight paths to use in response to citizens’ noise complaints.

“When it comes to public safety, communication is critical,” said Chris Roy, vice president, AT&T Government and Education. “With the San Diego Police Department, we saw a real opportunity to literally take our connectivity to new heights. We’re delivering the meaningful innovations they need to better serve the communities where we live and work.”