The scene Wednesday played out live for South Florida on NBC 6. From Chopper 6, viewers saw a dark car that police believe had been stolen racing on the highway, dodging drivers as they sped by.
And above in the Broward Sheriff's Office helicopter were Pilot Carl Spear and Tactical Flight Officer George Carbocci.
“We were up on a separate call and received a call for assistance,” Carbocci exclusively told NBC 6.
Carbocci and Spear watched as the car went into Miami-Dade County and then came back into Broward — all the while staying in touch with deputies on the ground and supervisors in a communications center.
“It's is a danger to the community and obviously have the helicopter resource —aviation resource up there — it’s a big thing to the public and not only for the public but for our ground troops as well where they can back off,” Carbocci said.
The report of a stolen car is not enough for deputies on the ground to start following them. BSO rules only allow that when there’s something like a kidnapping, attempted murder, or murder and an ongoing danger to the public. Miami-Dade Police has a similar policy.
So the task of getting the men in custody fell to the helicopter team.
“Once we get on you with the helicopter, the chances of you getting away are very slim,” Carbocci said.
Police identified 20-year-old Jwan Rivers and 21-year-old Tyler Hunt as the suspects, who eventually realized there was nowhere to hide — Chopper 6 captured one of them sitting on the sidewalk and waiting for deputies to pull up.
“As anybody else, we were surprised as well that they just got out and just hung out, basically. We normally have the situations where they pull off the side of the road and whatever it is, and they get out of the vehicle, and they go running away from law enforcement to avoid capture,” Carbocci said.
This was also the situation recently when Miami-Dade Police didn’t pursue the vehicle on the ground and the suspect was arrested without anyone being hurt. After dark, the helicopter crews can do the same thing. The camera onboard can turn night into day, and show an outline of anything that’s putting out heat.
Rivers is being charged with grand theft for allegedly stealing the car and driving without a license. His bond is $2,500 and he has to wear an ankle bracelet. The other man is facing a trespassing charge and released. Both are presumed innocent.
The big thing in all of this, police say, is despite what these men were doing on the roadway, the situation wasn’t escalated by officers pursuing them on the ground, and they got the technology and the eyeballs to find you anyway.
"I am glad it ended safe and in a positive way this time around where nobody was hurt," Carbocci added.