By Tamas Mondovics
Pointing a laser at an aircraft is a felony, which Plant City resident William Polson found out earlier this month after being arrested for striking a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s helicopter with a green laser pointer.
Deputies said that the pilot was conducting routine flight operations in the area of the Plant City Airport when the aircraft was struck with a laser originating from within the Walden Lake subdivision. A video of Polson was also obtained while he was shining the laser at the helicopter.
Polson, 58, continued to shine the laser at the helicopter while pilots guided uniformed patrol deputies to the area, deputies said.
To avoid being caught, Polson drove away from his residence, but thanks to being directed by the helicopter, HCSO ground units located and arrested him for Misuse of a Laser Lighting Device, which was recovered from his possession. Polson was booked into the Hillsborough County Orient Road Jail.
Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee, who also holds the title of South Eastern Director Airborne Law Enforcement Association which covers the southeast United States, the Caribbean as well as Africa, emphasized the importance of educating the public about the dangers of what some considered a harmless fun.
“As a licensed pilot and Sheriff of Hillsborough County, I am extremely aware of the dangers of lasers focused on aircrafts while in flight,” Gee said adding that the unlawful act not only poses hazards to the operations of the aircraft, but also to the community on the ground.
“Lasers can disrupt the operations enough to cause the aircraft to crash. Our overall goal is to educate the public, and I am hoping that through education rather than enforcement will be the key to ending the dangerous act of pointing a laser onto an aircraft.”
Upon his arrest Polson was charged with Misuse of a Laser Lighting Device (Felony) and Obstruction or Opposing an Officer Without Violence (Misdemeanor).
For more information, visit www.HCSO.Tampa.fl.us.