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The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the Airborne Public Safety Association (APSA), its Board of Directors, staff or membership; nor shall their publication imply endorsement on the part of APSA of any content or claims made therein. APSA disclaims all warranties, express or implied, and makes no judgment regarding the accuracy of posted information. In no event will APSA be liable to any party for any direct, indirect, special or consequential damages resulting from the publication or any subsequent public distribution thereof.



November - December 2005

Articles denoted by ** are available to 
APSA Members only.

Deter Detect Defend**

The New Frontier
Airborne Law Enforcement Homeland Security Missions & Applications**

The High Price of Policing Hate

Man, Machine & Mission
Part Two: Operational Risk Management For Aviators

From Impact to Recovery
The Aftermath of Disasters for First Responders

Manic Monday:
Copter Crew Shares First Katrina Images

The High Price of Policing Hate

By Assistant Sheriff Jim Lopey
Washoe County (NV) Sheriff’s Department

Transnational terrorism describes terrorism that reaches beyond a national border and extends internationally without borders. Geography, religion and the history of the Islamic world have all played a role in the creation of the more prevalent and dangerous transnational terrorist groups that exist in the world today.

The FBI defines terrorism as the "unlawful use of force against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in the furtherance of political or social objectives."

The biggest terrorist threat to the United States, its allies and secular Muslim nations is currently the International Jihad Movement. This movement is comprised primarily of extremists who do not follow an orthodox interpretation of their religion. Extremists who purport to follow religious faith, in reality, incorrectly interpret codified scripture in furtherance of their social or political agendas, which more often than not spells trouble for the victims of their wrath, as well as for law enforcement.

Islamic History

Islam began to spread in the Middle East when Mohammed the Prophet conquered the City of Mecca in 630. Mohammed’s daughter Fatima wrote down his visions from the Archangel Gabriel. These visions and verses became the Koran, and from it Mohammed’s word quickly spread throughout the trade routes.

Islam means "submission to the will of God." Mohammed believed he was God’s last prophet, just as Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the truth, light and path to Heaven. The Koran and Bible actually share many stories and characters. Most Islamic followers are Sunni, and about 15 percent of the rest are Shi’ite. Simply put, Shi’ites maintain permanent clergy or a lineage, whereas Sunnis believe in adopting clergy and leadership based on ability and other factors unrelated to where they came from.

Islam requires that all true believers practice confession, prayer, alms, fasting and pilgrimage. Islam has today become established throughout the world. It is firmly entrenched in the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia and Southeast Asia. Indonesia has the largest Islamic population in the world.

The West first experienced Islamic expansion in the years preceding the four great Crusades of the Middle Ages. Crusaders from the West embarked upon the Crusades in an attempt to rid the Byzantine Empire of encroaching Muslim hoards. The various Crusades began in 1095 and didn’t end until the early 1200s. Eventually, the seat of the Holy Roman Empire (Byzantine) fell in the Middle Ages.

Historically, the West has been fighting Islamic expansion for hundreds of years. Recent history, in many cases, parallels the history of old. The breakup of the Ottoman Empire after World War I set the stage for discontent and dissatisfaction with the West; dissatisfaction that lingers to this day. The influx of Jewish immigration to the Middle East just prior to and after World War II continued to set the stage for Arab discontent in the Middle East. The establishment of Israel in 1948 and the failure of the West to secure a separate homeland for the Palestinians triggered several conflicts amongst Arabs and Israelis.

The failure of various Arab League countries to win conventional wars with Israeli helped spawn the PLO and other Palestinian-based terrorist groups. Countries such as Syria, Iraq, Libya and later Iran jumped into the fray and became state sponsors of terrorism. Early Arab terrorism was different that the International Jihad Movement and, in fact, was sometimes "leftist" in ideology. However, in recent times, radical thought from the Wahhabi (purification/fundamentalist ideology) Movement and those espousing the views of such radicals as Asian Mawlana Mawdudi have spurred a dangerous and unique blend of extremism.

The success of the Sunni-dominant guerilla movement that ousted the Soviets in Afghanistan, the 1979 Iran Hostage incident and the Camp David accords bolstered and encouraged the extremism that we see today.

Extremists Scenarios

International extremists do not blend in with mainstream Islamic doctrine. However, the extremist groups led by Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, among others, have risen to become enemies of the West.

Al Qaeda is currently led by Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri formed Al Qaeda after the United States and its allies liberated Kuwait during the Gulf War. Bin Laden and his supporters were incensed when the U.S. and other non-Muslim forces congregated at or near some of the holiest sites in Islam. In 1996, bin Laden issued a "declaration of Jihad" against the United States. He has since urged followers to kill Americans anywhere in the world.

Bin Laden, a Saudi Arabian native, was expelled from his native country in 1991 and traveled to Sudan. From the Sudan, he found refuge with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Since the "declaration of Jihad," Osama bin Laden and his followers have been responsible for numerous attacks against American interests. In 1992, Al Qaeda operatives were active in Somalia when several U.S. Army Rangers, Delta Force Operatives and others were killed during an operation in Mogudishu.

In August of 1998, Al Qaeda attacked the United States Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya where 12 Americans and over 200 civilians were killed. In 2000, Al Qaeda associates bombed the USS Cole in Aden. Of course, the most devastating attack occurred on September 11, 2001, when the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks were carried out with the use of airliners. A third attack, most likely aimed at the U.S. Congress or a nearby target, was averted when the passengers fought back and wrested control of the fourth plane from the hijackers.

Other Major Threats

The major Islamic terrorist groups that pose a threat to U.S. interests include, but are not limited to, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamya. Hamas was formed in 1987 and engages in terrorist attacks and suicide bombings in the West Bank, Israel and Gaza. Hezbollah is a Shi’ite organization that evolved from the Iranian revolution, and this group is amongst the best training terrorists in the world. It has several thousand members, and its primary territory includes Lebanon, Israel and the West Bank. Hezbollah was responsible for the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon. Islamic Jihad is an ally of Hezbollah and has members in the United States. However, Islamic Jihad is primarily active in Israel, Jordan and Lebanon.

The Egyptian Islamic Jihad group is based in Cairo, Egypt and is active in the United Kingdom, Yemen, Pakistan, Sudan and Afghanistan. Jemaah Islamiya is a dangerous Terrorist group that operates in Southeast Asia. It has ties with Al Qaeda and has cells in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. Jemaah Islamiya was responsible for the Bali bombing in Indonesia where over 200 people were killed. Abu Sayyaf operates out of the Philippines, and many members are believed to have trained in Al Qaeda training camps. Jemaah Islamiya engages in bombings, assassinations, kidnappings and extortion.

Future Consequences

Numerous lesser known terrorist groups exist as well. Individuals and loose knit groups that embrace the "extremist" ideology of Al Qaeda and other radical groups will continue to pose a serious threat to American interests, including law enforcement.

Organized Islamic extremists will often take years to plan catastrophic attacks, so law enforcement needs to be on constant guard against surveillance-related activities by these groups. Until the United States and its allies leave the Middle East, withdraw support for Israel and convert to Islam, groups such as Al Qaeda will continue to direct its efforts as it has in the past. Training tapes recovered from at least one terrorist training camp in Afghanistan depict ambushes of "Western" law enforcement personnel.

The suicide bombings that are so prevalent in the Middle East will continue to be a potential threat in the United States and abroad. Weapons of mass destruction are of interest to these groups as well. Law enforcement and our citizens should be ever aware of the danger that these groups and individuals pose to this great nation. Appropriate training and the acquisition of personnel-protecting equipment should be the endeavor of all American law enforcement agencies today.

If some of the noted Islamic terror groups become more active in North America, it will require a continued shifting of priorities and resources within the law enforcement arena. Failure to anticipate or prepare can or will have tragic consequences. 

Research used included SLATT and reference materials from the author's own collection.

Man, Machine & Mission
Part Two: Operational Risk Management For Aviators

By Pete Hermes
Dept. of Homeland Security
U. S. Customs & Border Protection

When there’s a new unit startup, adoption of new mission types, procurement of new aircraft and/or associated equipment or development of a formal safety program, strategic and deliberate decision making will occur at the upper management levels within the police agency.

The Five Step ORM Process

Step 1: Hazard Identification
Step 2: Assigning a Numerical Risk Rating
Step 3: Defining the Acceptable Risk Level
Step 4: Implementing Risk Control
Step 5: Review ORM Process & Supervision

The level of decision-making and temporal aspects of operational risk management (ORM) can vary considerably depending on the size, experience, formal operating procedures, safety program and SOPs of a specific unit. Aviation units that have been operational for a considerable amount of time or are of significant size may have likely already developed operating guidelines, SOPs and/or formalized safety programs that include a significant portion of ORM to be conducted by the highest levels of management. 

But the application of the ORM five-step process does hold some special considerations unique to airborne law enforcement. 

Hazard Identification

The first step in the ORM process, hazard identification, focuses on three parts of the 5M-model: environmental (media), machine and human (man). Environmental hazards include weather, obstructions, regulations (restrictions), facilities condition, mission requirements, command interest and supervisory pressure. Machine hazards include system availability, maintenance history, avionics and communication capability, payload, accessories availability, adaptability to mission and performance capabilities. Human hazards include skill level, mission experience, workload, personal habits, work history, health and attitude or motivation as specified in APSA’s safety management model policy.

As with general ORM, the interaction within the 5M-model warrants particular attention in identification of hazards. For example, management can assign a crew with specific mission experience to certain missions, utilize aircraft equipment necessary to attain mission goals or objectives, identify crew capability and experience with the equipment or analyze the capability of special equipment to aid in attaining mission goals with a corresponding reduction in workload for the crew.

To identify specific hazards associated with aviation operations, a preliminary hazard analysis (PHA), operations analysis (OA) and "what if" analysis are probably most applicable. Other sources of hazard identification include prior incident/accident reports for the organization and others with applicability, brainstorming and survey of operational personnel, use of outside experts or safety audits and guidance from current SOPS, agency regulations and policy.

A detailed hazard identification for airborne law enforcement could be conducted by taking a specific mission or operation, breaking the activity into component tasks, then constructing a preliminary hazard list (PHL) with due consideration given to the 5Ms and possible inclusion of a "what if" analysis to the planned activity.

Some common, specific hazard areas include carriage and use of firearms in and around aircraft, operations conducted in close proximity to the terrain, obstructions, buildings and vehicles, occasional periods of extremely high workload for air crews interspersed during periods of relative low activity such as patrol and crew fatigue exasperated by periods of prolonged duty (overtime) and rotating shift work. Generally, the size of the aviation unit bears a direct relationship to the number of different mission types an organization may undertake and, correspondingly, the greater number of hazards it may be faced with.

Develop Numeric Risk Ratings

Once hazards have been identified, the next step is to assess the associated risk based on the probability and severity of a mishap and exposure to those risks for the resources committed (people, aircraft and equipment). Basic assessment protocols, such as a Hazard Risk Index (HRI) matrix, could be constructed for a specific mission or operation.

In conjunction with the HRI and for possible subordinate input, a number of risk matrices could also be constructed with inputs from the various identified hazard areas (e.g. complexity of mission compared with previous crew experience in the same or similar missions) to arrive at a numerical rating which, totaled with other matrices, would identify a degree of risk based on committed resources. A risk rating similar in construction to the Flight Safety Foundation’s CFIT checklist could be rendered from the previously totaled matrices to identify missions or operations entailing a certain degree of risk.

Acceptable Risk

The third step in the ORM process, making risk or control decisions, have their basis in rejection, avoidance, delay, transfer, dissemination, compensation and/or reduction of risk as described in the FAA’s System Safety Handbook. There are numerous risks in airborne law enforcement that may be deemed acceptable provided the benefits outweigh the costs or modifications can make the risk acceptable.

Otherwise, the risks will be ultimately rejected or avoided and the mission or operation aborted. Specific strategies to control risk can be realized through training, crew and/or equipment assignment, SOPs and/or regulations and mission planning or re-planning. As a general example, a complex mission or operation can have the associated risks reduced to acceptable levels by assigning a sufficiently experienced crew, ensuring that appropriate equipment is available and functional for the mission and that adequate planning of a deliberate nature has been conducted to minimize unforeseen events occurring during the actual mission.

Control Risk & Review

The fourth step in the ORM process is implementation of risk controls. The most critical factor to implementing controls is proper communication. The controls must be appropriate to the identified risk, acceptable to both managers and crew alike and understood by all parties involved. An aviation law enforcement organization that has a strong safety culture possesses the essential basis for the implementation of risk controls.

The final step in the ORM process is supervision and review. Supervision includes verification that controls have been appropriately incorporated and also assesses the effectiveness of controls. As with implementation, communication is key to determining the appropriateness and effectiveness of controls, as crew and managers work together determining the proper controls needed for an operation or mission element. As missions are conducted, a debrief of control measures will either determine adequacy of controls or bring about a repeat of the ORM process to improve upon previous plans and strategies as regards operation risk considerations of a specific mission or operation.

Operational risk management probably provides one of the most effective and efficient processes to follow in evaluating missions conducted by airborne law enforcement. The ORM process has been proven successful by the various services of the United States military in reducing mishaps. Law enforcement units conduct missions that, while not possessing all the elements and tasks undertaken by the military, include basic elements similar to military assignments.

Airborne law enforcement units can improve upon safety programs already in place by conducting a formal ORM evaluation of missions and operations that they conduct. New or expanding units can best be served by utilizing ORM in their operations while tailoring them to their geographic area, planned missions and the size and type of their equipment.

From Impact to Recovery
The Aftermath of Disasters for First Responders

By Dr. Tania McIntosh
Readiness Group International, LLC

Without question, this year’s hurricane season has created some of the most horrific series of events that we have ever experienced in the aftermath of natural disasters. The responses to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have required a great deal of time, assets and risk. The airborne law enforcement community has been an integral part of saving lives, restoring order and preventing further problems. Responding to a disaster, whether man-made or natural, is both rewarding and draining. Disasters reaffirm why we do our jobs but also cause personal aftereffects that one must be aware of.

By definition, a disaster is a natural or man-made event of severity and magnitude that normally results in death, injury and property damage. Disasters cannot be managed through routine resources and procedures and require immediate and effective response by numerous entities to meet the medical, logistical and emotional needs of victims.

There are eight phases of every disaster:

  1. Threat

  2. Warning

  3. Impact

  4. Inventory

  5. Heroic

  6. Honeymoon

  7. Disillusionment

  8. Recovery

The threat, warning and impact phases consist of the signs that something is about to happen and the actual event. In disasters, this is beyond human control. The remaining stages contain the very human reactions to disasters and are important to explore and understand.

The inventory phase is when survivors brush themselves off and look around to see what happened. Survivors also will seek out the support of others and will survey who survived, how much damage was done to property and what steps need to be taken next to ensure further survival. Responders who are not direct targets of the disaster will assess the scale and scope of the disaster and begin to formulate how to respond during this phase.

The heroic phase is marked by extreme acts of heroism that save the lives of victims and help those in despair. Both those effected and first responders will go to extremes to attempt to save others. Altruistic acts are not uncommon in the heroic phase, and the result is a sense of excitement, satisfaction and closeness between those who help each other out. This sense of euphoria is soon replaced by what occurs next — disillusionment.

Disillusionment consists of feelings of anger, disappointment, resentment, bitterness and frustration when expectations for recovery are not being met. It is human nature to strongly desire that things return to normal quickly. This is impossible in many disasters, and the discomfort that arises from being reminded every day that life has changed causes the frustration and anger associated with this phase. This phase is marked by extremes in emotions and behaviors and is also when individuals tend to seek out scapegoats or outlets for blame.

Unfortunately, law enforcement agencies and officers are frequently used as scapegoats by those in the public who are simply unable to cope with the emotions they are experiencing. For law enforcement officers who are involved in disasters, disillusionment occurs when it is perceived that there is a lack of support from their departments or chain of command. Disillusionment amongst law enforcement personnel will come about quickly when they are not given enough time off to pull their personal lives together or to recover from the extreme exhaustion that disasters tend to cause.

Reconstruction consists of both physical and emotional repair and reinvestment in individuals, organizations and communities. Reconstruction takes years to complete, but individuals and communities who are able to achieve a healthy state of repair will begin to move forward. Law enforcement officers are some of the most resilient individuals in our society, and while reconstruction is not easy, many approach it with a drive and sense of desire that is simply awesome.

External & Personal Factors

Both external and personal factors influence how one responds to a disaster. The external factors which may intensify the reactions of both victims and law enforcement responders include the nature of the event, the scope of the event and how much warning there was prior to the disaster. Obviously, larger scale disasters are much more difficult than those that can be contained easily and quickly. Man-made disasters tend to provoke stronger reactions from law enforcement personnel than disasters that occur naturally. However, it is normal for events like Hurricane Katrina, which represent a fusion of natural and man-made chaos, to cause strong reactions in first responders.

The environment and the ability to respond quickly and effectively also play a key role in the perceptions and thus the reactions of first responders. When those who are serving in the line of duty are able to do their job in a timely manner, the outcome is successful. Problems arise when politics, lack of resources and lack of direction interfere with the ability to get the job done.

Finally, the nature of the destructive agent, the amount of traumatic stimuli present and the amount of personal loss or injury further intensify the reactions of those involved. The experiences and the reactions of those on the ground, in the midst of the chaos, versus those who have the luxury of maintaining some distance are remarkably different.

The personal factors that play a key role in how one copes both during and after a disaster include each individual’s personal health, social support networks, coping style and prior successful experiences in dealing with disasters. Responders who are healthy and hydrated will always outlast those who have physical ailments, illnesses or who are not taking care of themselves through fluid and food intake. Law enforcement personnel who maintain good, close personal relationships with a supportive network also remain healthier than those who have not invested in maintaining this important aspect of life. Finally, responders who have had successful experiences during previous disasters will draw on those experiences, while those who have had very negative experiences and have not dealt with disasters on a personal level will often be reminded of, or will re-experience, those negative reactions.

The key to effective disaster stress management is to make it a priority every day. Keep it simple — eat right, exercise, rest when you can, take your vitamins, stay hydrated, ask for a break if you need one, talk to others, listen to others and call home when you can. Staying connected with family and friends is very important, as they serve as good reminders that life does go on despite the disaster. And keep an eye on your fellow officers. Your support is one of the best resources that they have.

Manic Monday:
Copter Crew Shares First Katrina Images

By Shea W. Gibbs

While enjoying a vacation in Hawaii, Helinet Aviation Services owner Alan Purwin said he felt like he was in a bubble. He was peacefully oblivious to the goings on of the outside world. Two days after returning to the mainland on August 29, though, he and pilot/photographer J.T. Alpaugh found themselves in the middle of the most significant event going on in the world – Hurricane Katrina.

"We’re not hurricane chasers or extreme thrill seekers," Purwin says. But they are electronic news gatherers. So, when Purwin emerged from the serenity of his vacation and heard that a category five hurricane was bearing down on the coast of New Orleans, he quickly got a crew and aircraft in position to bring the news of the storm’s destruction to the public.

"We were the eyes of the world for the first couple days," he says. Because of the advanced aerial photography equipment used by Helinet Aviation (which is also involved in the film industry), as well as their rapid response to the disaster, the company was chosen to be the main source of state of the art live video for ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox news in the aftermath. The images they captured were televised all across the nation.

The company’s role quickly evolved when they took to the skies in their Eurocopter B2 A-Star. And, as it happened, they were able to function in the capacity that Purwin says is the future of his aviation company – assisting law enforcement.

Helinet’s first function beyond reporting the news was to locate the most desperate victims of the hurricane and subsequent flooding. With Alpaugh behind the eyepiece, they were able to use their highly sensitive cameras to pinpoint the location of many stranded people and report their findings to Omaha 454, the DEA outfit that was controlling the airspace. Soon, they also found themselves dropping water and MREs to those who were unable to evacuate. Eventually, they were even called upon to save people on rooftops where the water was rising at an alarming rate.

"It was an unbelievable sight," says Purwin. "The level of devastation and destruction and the mayhem was beyond description."

Purwin and Alpaugh also got a chance to cover Katrina’s aftermath in Gulfport and Biloxi. Over the course of their three city tour, they worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security, Army Corps of Engineers, Coast Guard and several state police units.

"I see law enforcement as becoming our core business," Purwin says. "It’s something that’s very important to us."

Helinet’s imaging technology makes it a perfect fit for airborne law enforcement as well as news gathering. By using a camera mount and "slippering" technology that they developed as the first of its kind, the company is able to stabilize and display high definition camera images with three times the clarity of standard definition.

"Even at focal lengths greater than 1,100 mm, the image remains extremely steady and crystal clear, allowing aircrews to determine, for example, not just that a suspect is holding an object in his hand, but whether it is a handgun or cell phone," says spokesperson Peter Epstein in a release.

Hurricane Katrina didn’t offer Helinet their first opportunity to assist in law enforcement, though. Their Cineflex V14 HiDEF camera system is regularly used by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Air Support Division for surveillance to support aspects of their homeland security missions. It was also put into action by the Las Vegas Police Department for aerial surveillance during last year's New Year's celebration.

The Helinet Cineflex HD system consists of a Sony HDW-F950 camera used in combination with a sophisticated, proprietary gimbal system. The gimbal contains lenses and the optical block of the camera system itself.

"We build a gimbal that is stabilized better than anything else that’s out," says Purwin. "Our whole model is different. We make sure it’s the best imaging equipment possible."

Helinet can configure the system with a variety of lenses from all major manufacturers, but for Hurricane Katrina, the company primarily used 1140mm 84x Fujinon zooms. The system, once configured, is controlled from inside the helicopter by laptop. The helicopter also features a sophisticated microwave transmitter and high-gain directional pod, permitting live transmission of a high definition or standard definition signal from the aircraft as the images are acquired. Helinet uses a proprietary code to compress the HD signal for transmission to uplink facilities as far as 100 miles away.

Helinet Aviation employs the same technology for both law enforcement and broadcast news. But Purwin says that because not all news outlets transmit in high definition, they are forced to provide imagery to each and every station in standard definition. That’s not the case for law enforcement units. Helinet is able to work with each one individually and provide them the full advantage of their high definition technology.

"We’ve created an environment where the law enforcement, which has always been ten clicks behind the news, is now ahead," Purwin says. "We have a solution so that different law enforcement agencies have leap-frogged the news agencies, and it’s a great feeling."

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