On a recent night in Detroit, 16 pilots reported seeing lasers as they made their descents to the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. As any pilot knows, anything that can distract their focus during landing poses a serious threat to the safety of anyone on board.
"We treat it as a very serious matter," FBI Special Agent Dawn Clenney said. "Laser beams can disorient pilots responsible for an airplane full of passengers."
A memo sent to law enforcement agencies by the FBI and the Homeland Security Department in 2004 said there is evidence that terrorists have explored using such lasers as weapons. Clenney said pointing laser beams at airplanes could be considered a terrorist act under the USA Patriot Act and could carry up to 20 years in prison.
The FAA said the pilots reported the beams appeared to be coming from the area around Dearborn and Dearborn Heights. Police in searched in the areas where pilots thought the beams originated but found nothing suspicious.
"If it’s just kids or some irresponsible adults, they should be warned that this is a serious matter and will be treated as such," said Dearborn Heights police Capt. Lee Gavin.