The St. Joseph Police Department enlisted the help of a helicopter from the Missouri State Highway Patrol for another operation Thursday night.

According to St. Joseph Police Captain Jeff Wilson, Thursday night’s operation was similar to one held in April. Wilson said he didn’t know how many people were arrested Thursday, but he added those numbers will be available in the coming days.

In the April operation, 11 people were cited for fleeing. Police also employed the helicopter in a few operations in 2018.

According to Missouri State Highway Patrol Sargent Jake Angle, helicopters allow the police to follow suspects from a safer distance.

“We will try to stop vehicles for violations or check for stolen vehicles in the area or whatever the case may be,” Angle said. “If those vehicles decide to flee, instead of pursuing them in a vehicle, we’ll follow them in the helicopter.

“We’ll follow them until they stop and then we’ll move in,” he added.

The April operation involved several police agencies, including the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office. According to Sheriff Bill Puett, the latest operation involved some members of the Buchanan County Drug Strike Force. It is unknown if any other agencies were involved or on standby.

Angle did not know which agency, or agencies, covered the cost of Thursday’s operation, though he did say the helicopter is flown by highway patrol pilots.

In the April operation, Wilson said each agency shouldered its own costs. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, a police helicopter costs a few hundred dollars an hour to operate.

Matt Hoffmann can be reached

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