Boulder police hitched a ride with a news helicopter during a manhunt. It might remind you of a far crazier chase.

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Boulder police searched for hours on Tuesday night for an armed, injured man who had fired a weapon near police. At one point, they asked and were allowed to put a police officer aboard a helicopter shared by several news agencies.

Basically, the FBI and Denver police hadn’t yet responded to Boulder’s requests for chopper assistance, so the department instead asked for help from 9News and the other groups that share the helicopter, according to the Boulder Police Department.

The officer in the helicopter talked to SWAT teams on the ground, helping them “clear search areas.”

The Boulder Daily Camera’s Alex Burness explores the ethical questions of this partnership in a rather interesting piece today. Some journalism experts ask whether it puts the reporters too close to their sources, while the police say it was a way to ensure public safety in an unusual situation.

The most surprising thing to me was that Boulder didn’t have a helicopter the police could use.

This was a serious incident– but it doesn’t hold a candle to the craziness of one of Denver’s most infamous chases.

In 1988, News 4 helicopter landed on a fleeing car. The vehicle already had struck and killed Denver police officer Robert Wallis. When the chopper slowed the car, police officers rushed forward and shot the driver dead.

Mike Silva, the pilot, said he had “crossed that invisible barrier between being a journalist and a citizen.” He had no regrets.