That activity put many residents in that area on alert, and they contacted the Tinley Park Police Department's non-emergency phone line, looking for answers. It's a common response when helicopters are hovering over the village or police officers and patrol cars, lights flashing, are collected in a single area.
But that isn't necessarily the best way to find out what's going on. In fact, it can hamper efforts, according to one village official.
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Pat Carr, director of the Tinley Park Emergency Management Agency and 911 Communications, sent the following email to Patch, explaining the reasons behind all the helicopters in Tinley Park airspace, what the village does to inform residents and what residents should do when they hear them:
As most of the readers know there was a helicopter search that was conducted utilizing the Chicago Police/Cook County Helicopter. This helicopter is a roaming asset that can be utilized by a public safety agency in time of need and is a force multiplier. We are fortunate in the fact that we train and operate with this unit frequently due to our Village Helipad. When we know ahead of time that a helicopter will be operating in the area we try to notify the public.
Unfortunately, we do not control the airspace above Tinley Park and it is a very active air route to and from Midway. In times of an emergency and the use of helicopters, dogs and police are searching for an offender we will notify the public if it poses a threat.
In addition, it is not always possible to be sending public notifications out simultaneously due to 911 center call volume and officer safety issues. We are dealing with technology. How many times have you sent a text message or email and sometimes they are not received for hours, sometimes days. This unfortunately happens on occasion.
The other issue we have is when people do see all this police activity they want to call our 911 center to find out what is going on. This unfortunately ties up our dispatchers working the incident and poses a direct threat to officer safety. If there is a valid emergency or concern then please call 911, but if you are calling for information on an active incident then sometimes the best information is the Patch or other news source.
If people have questions about this they are more than welcome to contact me via email or my direct line.
Carr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 708-444-5410.