MOUNT VERNON – As Facebook rumors swirled and calls came streaming into the Mount Vernon Police Department late Tuesday night, Det. Matt Haver had this to say concerning the Ohio State Highway Patrol helicopter circling over the Mount Vernon area:
“All is good. It’s just a normal patrol."
The helicopter, Haver explained, was being used by the Mount Vernon Police Department for the evening as a standard patrol vehicle. It was meant to provide backup for road units, in case they needed it.
"There’s nothing going on," said Haver, who confirmed the chopper was not involved in any sort of active investigation. The chopper was simply acting as a police cruiser would on the road, except in the air.
"It’s really no different than many of our guys doing normal enforcement patrol or anything to that degree," Haver reiterated. "They just have the assistance, if we need it, of the chopper.”
Haver said the Mount Vernon Police Department must have connections with the Ohio State Highway Patrol, which would have allowed the department to partner with the patrol and gain access to the chopper for the night.
Opportunities like this are uncommon, Haver said, which made Tuesday night's aerial patrol a rare occurrence. Haver acknowledged that typically, when a chopper is being used locally, it is involved in an investigation. OSHP helicopters are sometimes used during manhunts or for traffic enforcement.
Tuesday's aerial patrol prompted online speculation and phone calls from concerned residents, Haver said.
“I’ve had city officials call me," the spokesman said. "Apparently, they weren’t aware of it either.”
Haver posted the following statement on the police department's Facebook page at 9:33 p.m., following several phone calls:
"Please be aware that the presence of an Ohio State Highway Patrol helicopter over and around the city tonight is only part of normal coordinated patrol."
One user responded, "What exactly is a 'normal coordinated patrol?' Has something happened that required a coordinated patrol?" Another asked, "Why haven't we noticed these 'normal coordinated patrol' before?"
Haver said he did not know until today that the police department would be utilizing helicopter patrol assistance this evening. He did not know if there might be helicopter patrols over Mount Vernon in the future, or if the police department would warn the public beforehand.