The presence of the helicopter over Rockingham and Kwinana has become a running joke on local Facebook pages.
Page users ask at least once a week why the helicopter is flying over their suburb.
The answer can be one of many things, according to the aircraft officers.
As part of their duties, air wing officers take part in a variety of roles.
They hold forward-looking infra-red (FLIR) searches in both metropolitan and country areas, they deploy specialised personnel to remote areas, they hold search and rescue operations on both land and sea, they search for offenders, they hold high-speed pursuits, they assist with armed offender incidents, they provide footage of hard-to-access emergency incidents, hold crowd control of large gatherings ” including parties and riots ” and take part in medivac duties.
Tactical Flight Officer Senior Constable Paul Watts said helicopters were used at night in particular.
‘This is due to the equipment and its capabilities to assist officers on the ground during darkness,’ he said.
‘The helicopters will fly at night to assist at incidents where the FLIR can be utilised to locate offenders, vehicles of interest and persons lost or missing.’
Sgt Watts said sometimes at night the public believed the sound they heard was a police helicopter.
‘But they are mistaken, as it may be one of the many other operators that work around Perth,’ he said.
‘When police helicopters are travelling from location to location, they can use known flight paths around the metropolitan and country areas.
‘These flight paths are also used by other government and non-government agencies during the day and night.
‘They should feel a little safer as police are more actively looking for someone.
‘Offenders often use darkness to perpetrate offences; however the helicopter and its crew are trained to operate at night and often in complete darkness to locate such people.’
Sgt Watts said police helicopters always remained at a safe altitude, but on still nights the noise they created would give the impression that they were close to the ground.
‘This is not the case and members of the public can be reassured it is operating from the standard height,’ he said.
‘The co-ordination of ground assets to the area, in conjunction with a set of eyes in the sky, can greatly enhance WA Police’s ability to apprehend offenders for multiple offences.”