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Police sky patrol has residents feeling safe

The Delaware News Journal | January 22, 2007 
ROBIN BROWN

Some Edgemoor area residents were relieved last week to learn the buzzing overhead wasn't an airplane in distress.

Delaware State Police took the rare step of using an airplane from its fleet based at Summit Aviation near Middletown to step up enforcement against speeders.

For about 90 minutes Wednesday morning, the trooper-operated Cessna patrolled above I-495 in the Edgemoor area, which Delaware State Police spokesman Cpl. Jeff Whitmarsh called "a problem area."

Fifteen speeders were arrested, including some topping 90 mph, he said.

Eleanor Jaremchuk, who lives nearby off Philadelphia Pike near Governor Printz Boulevard, said the plane's unexpected presence -- and noise -- was nerve-racking for her and her daughter Joanne.

"It was flying so low, I got scared," Jaremchuk said.

The plane's wobbling wings were no comfort, she said. "It was rocking back and forth," creating the impression that something might be wrong with the aircraft.

"I looked at the clock and thought, 'Am I going to die?' " she said. "I really thought it was going to crash."

What was happening, according to Whitmarsh, was that the police pilot spotted and identified speeders and notified ground troops, who pulled them over in a safe area nearby, off the interstate, he said.

Because of the highway's configuration there, he said, on-road radar patrols and roadside stops are difficult to manage safely and effectively.

Such planes in the police fleet normally are used for prisoner transport, he said, and have not been used for enforcement in New Castle County for many years. They are used occasionally by patrols over southern portions of the state.

Jaremchuk said she was happy to learn the plane was not in distress and that it was part of highway-safety enforcement.

"I'm glad they're doing that," she said. The speeding is so bad in the area, she said, that she and other residents take alternate routes for their travel just to avoid the risks on I-495.

 

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