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.
Venezuela Police Helicopter Crashes, Kills Five
A Venezuelan police helicopter crashed outside Caracas, the country's capital, on May 24. Police officials say all five people aboard the aircraft were killed.
The incident occurred in a forested area east of Caracas while the National Bolivarian Police were chasing a car in a kidnapping case. The helicopter was diverted from a surveillance mission to join the chase. The cause of the crash is still unknown, but Police Chief Luis Karabin cited atmospheric conditions. The pilot, co-pilot, a technician and two police officers lost their lives in the crash.
â€œI feel great pain for the loss of our officers of the National Bolivarian Police as they were patrolling our safe homeland,â€ Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said. Police on the ground later managed to free the two hostages from their kidnappers. One of the two suspected kidnappers was killed in the pursuit.
Kidnapping for ransom is widespread in Venezuela. According to the Venezuelan Violence Observatory organization, over a thousand abductions take place annually in the country.
Police Chopper Helps Stop Eight Speeders at Once
The West Vancouver Police Department and Squamish Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) made a massive traffic stop in early May with the help of Air One, RCMP's regional traffic patrol helicopter. Both agencies received calls about a caravan of cars speeding southbound on the Sea to Sky Highway late on May 3. As they worked to respond on the ground, Air One began tracking the cars by air.
Eight drivers were ticketed and their vehicles impounded after they were caught going nearly double the posted speed limit. According to footage and observation from Air One, the cars were estimated to be going nearly 90 mph.
The helicopter followed the cars until West Vancouver Police were able to set up a roadblock on the highway and stop the cars. All eight vehicles were immediately towed and impounded for a week. The drivers, ranging in age from 21-25, were given tickets for excessive speed. According to police, each of the vehicles had high-performance modifications.
See video of the chase and arrest here.
FHP Fighting Speeders From the Air
While many departments have recently reported a cutback in aerial traffic safety patrols, the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) recently told local reporters it is still a critical portion of its strategy. The department's Speed Containment Detail uses coordinated air and ground attacks to stop speeders all year long, according to FHP Lieutenant Greg Bueno.
According to a media investigation, more than 2,700 accidents leaving 42 people dead have occurred since 2010 on I-75 in Southwest Florida. Officials said speeding directly caused eight of those deaths.
FHP said it has the ability to use its airplane speed detail on all highways in Florida. The agency says the tickets are often contested in court but stick most of the time due to its accurate records.
Turkish National Police Orders Two New Helicopters
TThe Turkish National Police (TNP) has entered into a contract with Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. to purchase two new helicopters. The VIP S-92s will be used in service of the Turkish Prime Ministry and join another S-92 operated by TNP since 2005.
TNP expects to take delivery of the new S-92s this year. In addition to Turkey, S-92 helicopters transport the heads of state in nine other countries. This summer, Sikorsky will formally offer the platform to the U.S. Government, which is seeking to replace the "Marine One" helicopter fleet that transports the president.
The S-92 is certified to the latest U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and European airworthiness safety standards. In addition to the head of state transport mission, the helicopters perform search and rescue missions and a variety of transportation missions for offshore oil and gas crews, utility and airline passengers.
SOURCE: Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.
Scientific Uses Could Help Bring UAS to Law Enforcement
Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) have increasingly begun drawing interest from scientists for their ability to provide cheaper, safer and more accurate and detailed assessments of the natural world. The U.S. Geological Survey put the aircraft into their first noncombat use in 2010, when it deployed them with thermal imagers to count sandhill cranes.
Since then, UAS have scanned Idaho's backcountry for pygmy rabbits, monitored fencing protecting rare plant species in Hawaii, and gauged the restoration of the recently undammed Elwha River in northwest Washington. Every week brings more requests from other Interior Department agencies, according to U.S. Geological Survey cartographer Jeff Sloan. He said the greatest problem for scientists is a lack of trained pilots and equipment, politics, and getting clearance to fly.
Law enforcement agencies are struggling with many of the same issues in trying to get their UAS programs off the ground. But requests for the aircraft by scientists could help ensure the Federal Aviation Administration creates guidelines to smooth the integration of private commercial UAS into the airspace in 2015.
Phoenix Police Aviation Faces Cutbacks
The city of Phoenix plans to reduce operating and maintenance costs by cutting back on the Phoenix Police Department Air Support Unit's flight hours during non-peak times and restructuring its pilot training. Phoenix believes the cutbacks will save the city $629,000.
The unit currently operates eight single-engine helicopters, one twin-engine chopper and four fixed-wing assets. The unit consists of 28 officers, two chief pilots, three sergeants, nine A&P aircraft mechanics, a secretary and a lieutenant that serves as the onsite commander. The Phoenix Police Air Support Unit currently flies about 8,000 hours a year and has aircraft crews available 24 hours a day.
"The number one reason this helicopter is in town is to save lives," Officer Gary Bucklin said. And while keeping the unit's aircraft airborne isn't cheap, Bucklin said he doesn't â€œknow how you put a dollar figure on a human life."
Michigan Stops Grand Rapids Helicopter Patrols
Michigan State Police authorities say they received complaints from Grand Rapids residents about excessive noise due to helicopter patrols on May 18. By May 21, the patrols had been ended. However, Lieutenant Chris McIntire said the decision was largely due to greater needs in other parts of the state.
McIntire said crime has been down in Grand Rapids recently and doesn't warrant the patrols in the area. State police helicopter patrols in Grand Rapids began in early April and generally involved flights several days a week with a planned schedule of about 10 times a month. State police also patrol in Detroit, Flint and Saginaw. McIntire said state police supervisors might look at Muskegon as a place to start patrols.
McIntire said the noise complaints were also taken into account. "Is the good we're doing outweighing the complaints?" he said. "It's a balancing act." He said helicopter patrols could return to Grand Rapids if the need arises again. In the meantime, the helicopters will be available on request.
APSA Annual Conference Fast Approaching
APSA's 43rd Annual Conference & Exposition is fast approaching. Now is the time to register for the July 17-20 show in Orlando, FL.
Everything you need to know about the program and travel is available on the APSA website (www.alea.org/events/2013Conference). In order to get the most out of the show, make sure you are aware of the many educational tracks that are available: Fixed-Wing Operations, Legal & Regulatory Issues, Night Operations, Helicopter Rescue Tactics & SAR, Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Safety Management Systems, Patrol Tactics, Marketing, Grants, Budget & Finance, Unit Management, Aviation Training, Homeland Security & Special Ops, and Aviation Physiology.
For attendees that want to maximize their time in the Orlando area and enjoy the many family activities that are available, come down for the pre-conference courses from July 15 to 17. The pre-conference course schedule can also be found on the APSA website. We'll see you in Orlando!
Minnesota Officers Receive Award for Helicopter Rescue
Minnesota State Patrol officers Craig Benz and Jim Englin each received Lifesaving Awards on April 29. In May 2012, the chief warrant officers pulled a man to safety from a muddy bog with the help of night vision goggles during a nightly patrol.
"You kind of look at each other and go, did we just really do that?" Englin said. "It's kind of like practicing and practicing for the big game, and you finally get to do something with your training."
Benz said the award is a credit to the entire patrol. "Any one of the pilots down here would have done the same thing," he said. "It's a good feeling to be recognized for something that really is just part of our job."
After the officers spotted the missing man with night vision goggles, they flew to his location and were forced to land on top of soft mud. After Englin pulled off the tricky landing, Benz hopped out and immediately sunk to his knees in the bog. He was able to pull himself out and secure the man, who was disoriented and resisted being put in the helicopter.
National Police Agency of Japan Acquires Four New Aircraft
Japan's National Police Agency recently signed contracts with Eurocopter Japan for a total of four new helicopters. The agency will purchase two medium-class and two twin-engine light helicopters to be deployed in various jurisdictions in the country.
Hyogo Prefectural Police will receive an EC155 B1, Hiroshima Prefectural Police will get an AS365 N3+, Osaka Prefectural Police will acquire an EC135 P2e, and Fukuoka Prefectural Police will receive an EC135 P2e as replacements for aging aircraft. The new EC155 B1 will be the National Police Agency's first acquisition of this helicopter type. Delivery is expected in 2015. Hiroshima Prefectural Police will also take delivery of its new aircraft in 2015, while Osaka and Fukuoka will receive their helicopters next year.
Japan's National Police Agency is currently operating a fleet of 29 Eurocopter light-twin and medium-class helicopters across the country for police activities including crime-prevention, investigative search and security patrols, as well as other public service missions such as life-saving operations and transportation.
SOURCE: Eurocopter Japan
UAS Battles Continue in the States
More than three-quarters of U.S. states have now created bills to limit unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in the name of privacy rights. Lawmakers have put forward 85 bills in 39 states, most aimed at protecting citizens from â€œeyes in the skies.â€
Law enforcement officials disagree with the motivation behind these initiatives. Police say they use UAS to search for runaway fugitives, survey developing crime scenes and monitor hostage situations. Much of the new legislation requires police agencies to obtain a warrant before deploying a UAV, with exceptions for life-endangering situations. Some of the legislation is more specific. A Minnesota measure would protect farmers from agricultural officials. Another would ban attaching weapons to drones.
Florida, Idaho and Virginia have passed UAS laws so far this year. Virginia's creates a two-year moratorium on drone use by police agencies while the state studies its options. Florida and Idaho are requiring police to get a judge's permission to use a UAV in most cases. Tennessee and Montana have passed similar legislation that is sitting on the desks of Governors Bill Haslam, a Republican, and Steve Bullock, a Democrat.
Night Vision Awards; Call for Entries
The Night Vision Awards selection committee will be taking nominations for the 2013 Night Vision Awards, which will be held in Orlando at the APSA's annual conference, until June 21. Awards will be presented to recipients during a July 18 awards reception.
The Night Vision Awards are given at a series of events held throughout the year hosted by Aviation Specialties Unlimited (ASU), Night Flight Concepts, Vertical Magazine and RotorCraft Pro Magazine. The events are intended to promote operational leadership and excellence in the use of night vision. The awards will be given at the APSA annual conference in these categories: 5-Year Service, 10-Year Service, Community Awareness, Mark of Excellence, and International Advancement.
â€œThe awards held at APSA last summer ended up being standing room only,â€ ASU Director of Sales and Marketing Hannah Gordon said. â€œWe had record attendance and a great field of recipients. We hope attendees from APSA will come out and help us honor the recipients this year.â€
Any flight operation using any night vision system is eligible for consideration. Award nomination packets can be downloaded or filled out at http://www.nightvisionawards.com. Operators must be present at the APSA annual conference in order to be eligible. Nominators are asked to submit photos, videos and stories about their use of night vision along with their nomination form. Email supporting materials email@example.com.
SOURCE: Night Vision Awards
Enstrom Breaks Ground on Expansion
Enstrom Helicopter Corp. launched its previously announced expansion with a groundbreaking ceremony on May 10. The expansion will nearly double the size of Enstrom's current Menominee, MI, facility.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, state Rep Ed McBroom, Michigan Economic Development Corporation COO Steve Hilfinger, Menominee Mayor Jean Stegeman, and other state and city officials attended the event. The Enstrom expansion will add 77,000 square feet to the current 85,000-square-foot facility. Snyder said the addition is an exciting prospect for growth in the community and lauded the creation of 150-200 new jobs at the plant.
â€œThis expansion is a great opportunity, not only for Enstrom as a business, but also for Enstrom employees, this community, and the state of Michigan,â€ said Jerry Mullins, president and CEO of Enstrom Helicopter.
SOURCE: Enstrom Helicopter Corp.
APSA's Cover Contest Ending; Submit Now!
Air Beat magazine and APSA are making it even more rewarding to take photos of your agency's aircraft, personnel or missions. Enter Air Beat's cover photo contest now and you could receive a new Apple iPad in July. Just send us three of your best public safety aviation photos and you'll be entered for a chance to win the iPad and have your photo appear on the cover of an upcoming issue of Air Beat.
The entry period has been extended until June 30. The contest winner will be announced at the General Membership Meeting during the 43rd Annual Conference & Exposition in Orlando, FL, on July 18. If the grand-prize winner is in attendance, they'll take home a new iPad! For submission and eligibility details, please click here:http://archives.alea.org/public/airbeat/contest/default.aspx.
MD Police Chopper Damaged in Emergency Landing; None Hurt
A Howard County (MD) Police helicopter made an emergency landing on a high school football field in late May and suffered â€œsignificant damage.â€ No one was hurt in the incident, which was said to be due to a mechanical problem.
Police said the helicopter crew, a pilot and three TFOs, were responding to a call at 11:07 p.m. when the problem occurred. The pilot saw the high school nearby using night vision goggles and performed the emergency landing in the field. Damage estimates for the helicopter have not been determined.
In addition to the pilot, a Howard County TFO and TFO-in-training, as well as an Anne Arundel County (MD) Police TFO, were aboard the aircraft. The two counties share flight personnel and equipment, police said. Howard County police said the helicopter's flight maintenance records were current and there was no record of mechanical problems with the aircraft. Federal Aviation Administration inspectors were at the scene first to conduct a preliminary investigation, but the primary cause of the mechanical failure won't be known until the National Transportation Safety Board completes its investigation.
Turkmenistan Creates Police Aviation Service
Turkmenistan has created a police aviation service under its the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The Aviation Service is expected to conduct aerial surveillance for public order, fire safety and perform rescue and transport missions.
The Ministry's report on the service indicated several helicopters have been purchased from the U.S.-based Robinson Helicopter Co. The country has signed a contract to buy two more choppers from the JSC Kazan Helicopter Plant of the Russian Federation.
The Ministry is in the process of training its helicopter crews. The training will be specifically geared toward training the pilots and TFOs to conduct flights over the Turkmenistan foothills and other places where there is a significant fire risk.
Florida Sheriff Aviation Unit May Merge With Mosquito Control
Brevard County (FL) is considering a merger between its sheriff's aviation unit and mosquito control helicopter operations. The plan is expected to save the county about $3.3 million over 12 years, partly because it would not have to buy two new helicopters for use in aerial mosquito spraying.
Brevard County Natural Resources Management Department Director Ernie Brown, who oversees mosquito control, said the new plan would allow his department to use the two existing Brevard County Sheriff's Office helicopters, as well as a surplus helicopter the sheriff's office received last week from the U.S. Air Force. Brown said the addition of the surplus helicopter is what makes the merger a possibility. The existing mosquito control helicopters are 44, 22 and 12 years old, and going to the sheriff's office helicopters would â€œincrease aircraft reliabilityâ€ and reduce downtime. The plan must be approved by the Brevard County Commission before it can go into effect.
"Given that we are now able to provide the helicopter capabilities that the county needs, we are hopeful that other efficiencies for both law enforcement and mosquito control can be gained through this merger, for the benefit of our taxpayers that rely on us,â€ Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said.