APSA's E-Newsletter is designed to help keep you informed on the very latest information in the airborne law enforcement industry. The E-Newsletter may also be read online here at our website.
Schwarzbach to Replace Ingley in APSA's Top Post
Steve Ingley will step down from his position as APSA executive director on Feb. 21, and longtime APSA officer Dan Schwarzbach will take over the post. Ingley has served as executive director for nearly eight years.
"I hope that my service was of value to you," he wrote in a letter to APSA members. "What I know is that serving you has been a tremendous honor and privilege. Rarely a week goes by that I don't see a public safety aircraft flying overhead. This will be a regular reminder to me of not only these wonderful years at APSA, but of your service to me and mine."
Schwarzbach has served APSA in various roles including region director, president and CFO for many years and brings with him 33 years of police pilot experience, as well as an in-depth knowledge and understanding of association management. Schwarzbach will spend several weeks working closely with Ingley to ensure the transition goes smoothly.
"Without [Steve], I would have never seriously considered going into association management," Schwarzbach wrote in his own letter to membership. "Steve came to us during a time of great transition, APSA having just moved our base of operations. Under his leadership, we did not miss a beat. During his time with APSA, he has been a mentor and friend to me, and I appreciate his patience, guidance and leadership over the years." In addition to assuming the duties of executive director, Schwarzbach was also named as the Association's CEO.
Eurocopter Joins Airbus, Rebrands
Eurocopter, a major manufacturer of law enforcement helicopter platforms, has joined the Airbus Group and changed its name to Airbus Helicopters. The helicopter unit will be part of the Airbus Defense & Space Division. Airbus Helicopters is expected to benefit from the Airbus brand as it develops, manufactures, markets and supports its rotorcraft product line, but the names and designations of the former Eurocopter brands remain unchanged at this time.
"This rebranding works hand in hand with our ongoing transformation, which is now bolstered by the Airbus brand's strong foundation in innovation, quality and industrial excellence," said Guillaume Faury, president of Airbus Helicopters. "Both of these together will serve our ambition of setting the industry standard in terms of safety, mission capability and performance for our operators around the world."
SOURCE: Airbus Helicopters
Tennessee Aviation Unit Helps Recover Stolen Equipment
The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) Aviation Unit and Criminal Investigation Division recently helped find stolen construction equipment valued at more than $100,000. On Nov. 26, 2013, the owner of a 2007 Kubota Mini Excavator told police the machine had been stolen and had a built-in transponder, which local officers activated. While dispatched on a search and rescue mission on Dec. 23, the THP Aviation Unit detected a signal from the stolen excavator, logged the location of the signal and continued with its current assignment.
Several days later, members of the THP Criminal Investigation Division returned to the location recorded by the aviation crew and found the equipment at a homeowner's construction site. Following the initial investigation, additional information led to the recovery of a 2012 Caterpillar Mini Excavator from a second location. The recovery represented the first time THP Aviation had used LoJack, installed in two of its helicopters, to locate stolen equipment.
Safety Debate Ramps up Over Arizona Helicopter Crash
The Pinal County (AZ) Sheriff's Office Aviation Unit has come under fire as scrutiny has been raised over a crash last June. The crash, from which the three passengers escaped without injury, was reportedly due to a shop rag left inside an engine during maintenance. National Transportation Safety Board investigators revealed their findings in the case in late January, which came alongside new safety concerns from a former department pilot.
Pinal County is hoping to replace the helicopter with either a less expensive aircraft or supplement the purchase with non-county funds or reclaimed scrap value from the crashed aircraft. The aviation unit expects to continue to conduct pursuit, drug interdiction and search and rescue missions using the new aircraft.
Man Convicted of Lasing Fresno Police Helicopter
A 23-year-old man was sentenced to 21 months in prison for aiming a laser pointer at a Fresno County (CA) Sheriff's Office helicopter, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced last month. According to court documents, the man deliberately tracked and struck Eagle 1, a Fresno County Sheriff's Office helicopter, with a powerful red laser while the aircraft was assisting ground units on a call for a domestic disturbance. As a result, the pilot was distracted by the intense light and forced to break away from the call.
The pilot reported the laser strikes to Air Traffic Control at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport and, with the help of the Clovis Police Department, was able to locate the source of the laser and identify the suspect. In pleading guilty, the man admitted he knew it was a crime to point the laser at an aircraft but stated he "just can't help himself from doing stupid things."
In 2013, there were 3,960 laser illumination incidents reported to the Federal Aviation Administration, an average of 10.85 strikes per day. "Shining a hand-held laser at an aircraft in flight is a serious, illegal act that puts both aircrew and the public on the ground at serious risk," said Special Agent in Charge Monica Miller of the Sacramento Division of the FBI. "Handheld lasers are well labeled to inform owners of their potential risk to health and safety, cautioning owners against improper use. Ignorance is no excuse for such reckless action, and we are committed to working with our law enforcement partners to locate and identify individuals who have total disregard for life and safety."
APSA Creates Unmanned Aerial Systems Award
During its biannual meeting last month, the APSA Board of Directors voted to create the APSA Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) award to be presented annually in conjunction with the Association's conference and exhibition. This award will recognize an individual or group of individuals whose efforts or actions have promoted and/or furthered the development and/or use of UAS in the performance of public safety aviation missions. Likewise, this award may recognize an individual or agency whose safe and effective use of a UAS resulted in the successful completion of a public safety mission. The efforts or actions may be a single event or span over a period of time, and nominees may or may not be sworn personnel or members of APSA.
The inaugural presentation of this award will take place during APSA EXPO 2014 this July in Phoenix, AZ. More information about this award, the six others APSA presents annually, and the 18 scholarships to be presented in July will be available in the Awards & Scholarships section of the APSA website (www.alea.org/areas/awards) by mid-February.
Texas Unit's Gyroplane Crashes at Airport
The Tomball (TX) Police Department's gyroplane reportedly crashed at the David Wayne Hooks Airport during taxi in mid-January. According to a report posted by the Tomball Police Department, the two-seat aircraft was damaged significantly but its passengers incurred no injuries.
The Tomball Police Department, which operates the gyroplane as a low-cost alternative to traditional airborne law enforcement platforms, said the accident happened after the aircraft landed at the end of a patrol mission. A gusting crosswind hit the aircraft during taxi, causing it to veer off the runway. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident.
Bahrain's Police Aviation Unit Assists in Major Drug Seizure
Bahrain Police Aviation assisted in the early January arrest of two Bahrainis engaged in a major drug trafficking operation. Bahrain's General Directorate of Crime Detection and Forensic Science, in cooperation with the coast guard, police aviation and various police authorities, were deployed after receiving a tip about the trafficking operation. The team spotted a boat heading towards Bahrain's regional waters, and its identification was confirmed through the coast guard radar.
Police confiscated the boat's shipment at Jadoom Island. The confiscated material included 105 kg of hashish, 333 g of methamphetamine and four bags of phenethylline. The boat was also confiscated, and additional individuals have been arrested following the launch of an intensive investigation.
Florida Man Arrested for Pointing Laser at Jet, Police Helicopter
A Florida man is facing a felony charge for pointing a laser at a plane en route to Southwest Florida International Airport, as well as a Lee County Sheriff's Office Aviation Division helicopter responding to the complaint. According to local police, the man was with two other people outside a home on Dec. 28 when the incidents occurred.
The man was charged with misuse of a laser lighting device, a third-degree felony, and was out on bond shortly after the arrest. "Given the attention that cases such as this received in the years following 9/11, it is stunning that anyone would do this," Cape Coral Police Department Sergeant Dana Coston said.
Maryland Flight Crew Helps Rescue Missing 80-Year-Old Woman
The Prince George's County (MD) Police Department (PGPD) Aviation Unit utilized a FLIR imager to locate a missing 80-year-old woman in late January. According to police, the woman's daughter reporter her mother, who suffers from dementia, had wandered into the snow on the night of Jan. 22. Police said it was 9 degrees at the time.
The PGPD flight crew used the helicopter's FLIR thermal imaging system to find a hot spot in woods near the woman's house and were able to guide officers on the ground to the location. Officers found the woman unable to get up from the snow on her own. See video of the rescue from the FLIR camera here:www.wusa9.com/story/news/local/2014/01/23/missing-woman-snow-rescued/4797909/.
Indiana Looks at Restricting UAS Surveillance
An Indiana House of Representatives committee is considering a bill that would limit police use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and electronic surveillance equipment. The bill would strictly regulate police use of UAS to conduct surveillance without a court warrant. It would also regulate the placement of cameras or other electronic surveillance equipment on private property.
If passed, the bill would represent the latest in a string of legislative maneuvers to limit police use of UAS. More than three-quarters of U.S. states have considered UAS bills in the name of privacy rights.
Enstrom Helicopter Announces Change in Leadership
Jerry Mullins announced his retirement as president and CEO of Enstrom Helicopter Corporation. Mullins was replaced by Tracy Biegler on Feb. 1.
Enstrom produces a number of light single helicopters for the law enforcement industry, as well as the military and commercial and private operators. Enstrom is a wholly owned subsidiary of Chongqing Helicopter Investment Group and is located in Menominee, MI. Biegler will move into the top post for the company from the vice president's chair. A 26-year veteran of the aviation industry and 10-year Enstrom employee, Biegler said the change will support the company's continued growth.
SOURCE: Enstrom Helicopter
U.K. Man Receives Suspended Sentence for Lasing Police Helicopter
A U.K. man reportedly launched a prolonged laser attack on a North Wales Police helicopter as it hovered above his home looking for a missing person in early January. The aircraft was hovering at 1,200 feet above a densely populated area at the time of the attack. The pilot was reportedly using night vision goggles.
The crew was able to pinpoint the origin of the laser and directed ground crews to the location. The man responsible for the attack was found in his home and admitted to the charge of "recklessly endangering an aircraft or persons inside." Magistrates gave him a five-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered him to carry out 200 hours of community service.
Arkansas State Police Helicopter Assists in Teen Rescue
The Arkansas State Police Department's helicopter was used to assist the Pope County (AR) Sheriff's Office in the rescue of a youth reported missing in late December. The boy had reportedly been hunting with his father in the area when the two became separated.
After ground officers were unsuccessful at finding the boy on foot and using ATVs, the helicopter was dispatched shortly after nightfall. The crew was able to spot the boy within an hour using night vision equipment and forwarded his location to a search and rescue team on the ground. He was found cold but uninjured. Pope County Office of Emergency Management Search and Rescue, Arkansas Alliance of Blood Hound Search Specialists and local volunteers assisted in the search.
Cold Laser Case Closed as New York Man Confesses
A mentally ill man accused of aiming a laser beam at a Westchester County (NY) Police helicopter during a fireworks celebration turned himself in to federal authorities in mid-January. The 40-year-old-man allegedly hit the helicopter with a green laser twice during a Fourth of July celebration last year.
Westchester County Police Aviation Commander Sergeant Vincent Antonecchio said the laser used to strike the unit's aircraft is high in intensity and can cause temporary flash blindness. The U.S. attorney recommended the man's passport be seized and that he continue with his mental health treatment and medications. He was released on a $100,000 personal recognizance bond.
Eastern Region Meeting for Safety's Sake in Columbus
APSA's Eastern Region Safety Seminar will head to Columbus, OH, this year, landing at the Hyatt Regency Columbus from March 25 to 27. The Columbus Police Department will play host, organizing the many networking and educational opportunities that have become a hallmark of this much anticipated event.
Special accommodation rates of $109 per night are available at Hyatt Regency Columbus until March 3. Register online for the event athttp://archives.alea.org/events/register.aspx?i=142&g=168or contact Eastern Region Director Dan Cunningham atdcunningham@PublicSafetyAviation.org for more information.
APSA Welcomes New Members
APSA would like to welcome the following corporate and individual members who joined during January 2014:
Paul Apolinar - Phoenix Police Department Air Support Unit