New audio tapes shed more light on no-fly zone over Ferguson

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - New recordings from the St. Louis County Police Department may shed more light concerning what happened when police requested a no fly zone over Ferguson.

Some people think police ordered the restricted airspace to keep media from covering the story.  This is a portion of one of the recordings:  FAA: He is okay with commercial aircraft transiting the area if they need to but this is more of restriction to keep obviously to keep media out is that correct? Police dispatcher: He didn't state that but that would be my guess.

Captain Kurt Frisz has been a county police chopper pilot for 25 years, he asked for the no fly zone over Ferguson. Captain Frisz said, "I absolutely understand how this could be construed that this was targeting the media. It absolutely wasn't, I was the commander who made the request I know what my decision was made on it was based on public safety and air safety."

He told a police dispatcher to make the call after the FAA first contacted authorities about restricting the air space.  Frisz said the dispatcher has no knowledge of flight regulations he was just the messenger.  Here's a portion of another call: Dispatcher: I just talked to Captain Frisz he said it's just for the media.

And captain Frisz said he had good reason for restricted air space.  People were shooting at the police helicopter. They released another recording of a witness the night of August 10th.  Here is part of that: Caller says: They just started shooting at the helicopter. Dispatcher:  They're shooting at the helicopter? Caller: Yeah, I'm just looking at out my window helicopter and watching the news as they were aiming at the helicopter".

And here's a part of a call between the dispatcher and Captain Frisz: Dispatcher: Do we just want to keep news helicopters out or are we talking about all commercial? Capt. Kurt Frisz: Our goal. No, no, no, no commercial, just helicopters." Dispatcher:  Just helicopters.

In an interview Captain Frisz added, "The concern was any aircraft operating in this area would become a target. My concern was as the scene commander that a person discharging a firearm doesn't know the difference between a private helicopter or a law enforcement helicopter, a media helicopter or a law enforcement helicopter."

Not only was he worried about the gunshots but also lasers plus an overcrowded airspace.  He wasn't too concerned about commercial flights because they were a mile south of the problem area.

Previous Coverage:

Chief Belmar responds to no-fly zone over Ferguson to keep media away