They seem as common as squawking gulls, and true Angelenos may not even bother to look up when one of the LAPD's 17 helicopters rattles their windows, its spotlight searching for a car-jacked Camry or an assault suspect hiding under a jacaranda.
In a city of 469 sprawling square miles, few doubt that more bad guys would get away without the nation's largest police helicopter fleet to help chase them.
Now the LAPD is pioneering the use of helicopters to stop crimes before they start.
Tapping into the data-driven policing trend, the department uses heat maps, technology and years of statistics to identify crime "hot spots." Pilots then use their downtime to fly...