12:28 PM:Thanks for the tips. According to the flight tracker, that helicopter over Westwood, Gatewood, and vicinity is registered to the Department of Homeland Security. We’re looking around on the ground and researching further. The tracker now shows it heading north (added) and then south again.
12:39 PM: Adding a screengrab from FlightRadar24 showing part of the circling it’s done. It’s close to our HQ east of Lincoln Park currently. The tracker shows it started its trip up in Arlington.
12:55 PM: Added a photo. While DHS has a variety of agencies under its wing, the FlightRadar24 page for this helicopter has a closeup shot that shows a Customs and Border Protection logo. (Added – We got a better picture from its flyover. Substituted above. Same logo.)
1:17 PM: Looking for someone to ask about this, but in the meantime, the Customs website has a one-sheet that says this type of aircraft is usually used:
“… to perform missions such as aerial patrol and surveillance of stationary or moving targets. These LEHs are the optimal aerial surveillance platform in metropolitan areas because their vertical lift capability and maneuverability enable operations from off-airport sites and in close proximity to congested airports.
Electro-optical/infrared sensors and video downlink provide intelligence and communications support that enhance officer safety during high-risk operations and increase covertness during surveillance operations.
Video recorders document suspect activities for evidentiary use. The AS350s often fly with a crew of two (pilot and observer).”
1:52 PM: After looping around the north half of the peninsula a while, the helicopter is no longer shown on the tracker. Meantime, our inquiry to the CBP media contact for this region drew an auto-reply saying he’s out of the office because of the federal government funding lapse (aka “shutdown”).