LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- From "Thurby" to the Pegasus Parade, thousands of people enjoyed Kentucky Derby festivities on Thursday, and LMPD maintained a bird's eye view of it all.

The first stop was "Thurby" at Churchill Downs.

"Most, all events, we'll be there for over watch," said Officer Bryan Arnold, LMPD's Chief Pilot.

From the sky, Arnold communicates with units on the ground.

"That allows us to basically beam a video back to the real-time crime center as well as officers in their patrol vehicles," he said.

The technology gives officers on the ground a bird's eye view of the scene.

"So they can see exactly what we are seeing overhead," Arnold said.

The annual "Thurby" crowd was a little sparse early, so Arnold flew over to Broadway for the Pegasus Parade and anywhere else the air unit was needed.

"If we are airborne ... I can make it from one side of the county to the other in 12 minutes," Arnold said.

Police say the air unit's unique perspective helps spot potential problems on the ground even before there's a 911 call.

"If they see something, they're trained," said Sgt. Jon Hagedorn, commander of LMPD's Air Unit. "You can land the helicopter, you can get out, and you can do police work,"

Hagedorn said the eye in the sky recently help defuse a potentially deadly confrontation.

"A couple of male subjects who were getting into a fight, we were able to hail them through our PA system," he said. "They kind of broke up for a second, but we saw one of the gentleman go to the trunk and take a firearm out."

Meanwhile, with thousands of people at the track and other Derby events, LMPD brought in some backup.

"We partner with the Kentucky National Guard and Kentucky State Police, and they also have aviation sections that will come in and help us ... just give us additional eyes in the sky," Hagedorn said.

"It is what I come to work to go do," Arnold said.

Arnold added that his No. 1 job is to protect and serve.

"We're still police officers," he said. "We are just in a different vehicle."

LMPD's air unit did several fly overs at Churchill and on Broadway, which will continue throughout Derby weekend.

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