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.
Helicopters Put to Use in Search for Cop Killer
Police aviation assets played a significant role in the February manhunt for Christopher Dorner, a former Los Angeles Police Department officer that waged war on the department in the aftermath of his firing from the department.
After Dorner threatened to bring "warfare" to LAPD and went on a shooting rampage that left a policeman and two others dead, police determined he had fled to the mountains and scoured the peaks for several days, using everything from bloodhounds to helicopters equipped with high-tech search equipment in their manhunt. In addition to LAPD, Nevada authorities also joined the search, because Dorner owns a house nine miles from the Las Vegas Strip, according to authorities and property records.
The manhunt, which consumed much of the law enforcement community for several weeks, ended Feb. 12 when Dorner mounted a last stand in a shootout in Southern California. Bunkered in a mountain cabin, Dorner killed one sheriff's deputy and wounded another before the cabin erupted in flames.
Texas Changes Rules on Firing From Aircraft
Texas state officials said in late February troopers are now forbidden from aerial shooting unless they're under fire. The decision came on the heels of a state trooper firing on a pickup truck from a helicopter and killing two Guatemalan immigrants nearly four months ago.
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw announced the policy change in the face of lawmakers questioning the deadly high-speed pursuit along the U.S.-Mexico border in October. Troopers thought the truck was carrying a drug load and fired to disable the vehicle as it approached a school zone. McCraw continued to defend the shooting as he announced the new policy. "I'm a firm believer they did exactly what they thought they needed to do," McCraw said.
According to the revised policy: "a firearms discharge from an aircraft is authorized only when an officer reasonably believes that the suspect has used or is about to use deadly force by use of a deadly weapon against the aircrew, ground officers or innocent third parties."
Helicopter Noise Bill Reintroduced in California
Both houses of Congress have reintroduced the Los Angeles Residential Helicopter Noise Relief Act, which would require the Federal Aviation Administration to impose additional noise regulations on helicopters in the Los Angeles area. U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) revived the bill in the House, and Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
â€œLegislation is absolutely the wrong solution to such a diverse and complex issue and usually results in unintended consequences, inclusive of degradation of safety and inefficient use of the airspace,â€ said Helicopter Association International President Matt Zuccaro. â€œThis legislation is being introduced absent any data or study relative of the issue.â€
The bill would require FAA to establish regulations on flight paths and minimum altitudes for helicopters in the Los Angeles area within 12 months of passage. It would also require FAA to set guidelines on where and how low helicopters could fly over residential areas.
APSA Exhibits at HELI-EXPO
Helicopter Association International's annual HELI-EXPO landed in Las Vegas, NV, on March 4 and continued until March 7. More than 20,000 helicopter professionals attended the event to network with industry peers, attend educational forums and participate in industry meetings. In addition, attendees had the opportunity to experience the latest aircraft, technologies, products and services available from the more than 700 companies exhibiting.
Included among the exhibitors was APSA. The Association shared the benefits of public safety aviation and APSA's training, networking, advocacy and educational programs. APSA Executive Director Steven Ingley, President Kurt Frisz, and CFO Dan Schwarzbach manned the booth, among several others, all promoting the benefits of APSA membership.
Bell Helicopter Delivers Aircraft to Nigerian Agencies
Nigeria is the first African country to purchase the light twin-engine Bell 429 utility helicopter. Two aircraft, which will be used for law enforcement, surveillance, force protection and humanitarian missions, were recently delivered to the Nigeria Police Air Wing and to the Nigeria Emergency Management Agency.
"Our Nigerian customers are thrilled to be the first Bell 429 operators in Africa," said Robert Prentice, Vice President, Aircraft Sales, of Africair, Inc., Bell Helicopter's independent representative in Africa. "The Bell 429 is the most technologically advanced and capable light-twin helicopter in the marketplace and will serve the NPAW and NEMA well for many years to come."
The 429 has a cruise speed of 172 miles per hour, a range of more than 400 miles, a service ceiling of 20,000 feet and can carry six passengers.
Northampton Police To Sell Seized Aircraft on eBay
A light aircraft used by a U.K. gang convicted of drug trafficking will be sold on eBay with a reserve price of Â£12,000. Northamptonshire Police Authority said the plane was used to transport cocaine. Six men were jailed in November 2012 and the plane was seized under the Misuse of Drugs Act. Any money raised from the sale can be used for policing activities and community projects, a spokesman said.
Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds said, "I believe this may be the first time a force in the country has seized an airplane and is in a position to sell it, so this is a great result for us." The plane was confiscated by the East Midlands Special Operations Unit, which said drugs were taken by road from Amsterdam to France, where they were loaded onto the aircraft and flown into Northamptonshire.
Virginia Votes in Two-Year Moratorium on UAS Use
Virginia lawmakers approved a two-year moratorium on the use of unmanned aerial systems by police and government agencies in early February. Proponents of the legislation say the use of UAS could infringe on Virginians' privacy. Organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Tea Party Federation and agriculture groups supported similar bills in both houses of the state legislature. Several law enforcement organizations opposed the measures. Gov. Bob McDonnell has not yet signed the bill into law.
Legislators initially proposed regulating UAS by requiring police to obtain a warrant before deploying the aircraft for surveillance purposes but decided on the moratorium to allow more time to study the issue. The lawmakers carved out exceptions for the use of UAS in emergencies or to search for missing children or seniors.
The action came a day after the Charlottesville City Council passed a resolution imposing a two-year moratorium on the use of UAS within city limits and urging the General Assembly to pass regulations. The Rutherford Institute, a civil liberties group behind the effort, said Charlottesville is the first city in the country to limit the use of UAS by police.
Did You Know?
Did you know that all of the articles that you read in Air Beat and other APSA publications are supplied by our members? Yes, all of that excellent editorial comes from readers just like you. Not seeing something on a topic that interests you? Want more fixed-wing or maintenance related articles? The answer begins with you. Share your knowledge on an area of interest or expertise with all of our members by sending your stories toairbeat@PublicSafetyAviation.org. Not a writer? No problem. Our editorial staff can work with you to produce an article your mama would be proud of. Contact Lisa atairbeat@PublicSafetyAviation.org to get started on winning a Pulitzer!
Sequestration Could Cripple Aviation
Sequestration, federal budget cuts that went into effect on March 1, will trigger a $483 million cut in the FAA operations budget, which would mean mandatory furloughs among air traffic controllers and aviation safety inspectors, among others.
The budget cuts are expected to have a dire effect on all areas of aviation, including public safety. FAA's air traffic overhaul initiative, NextGen, also will be in jeopardy. "It is of significant concern to Helicopter Association International and our members that critical servicesâ€¦from the FAA at all levels will be drastically reduced and our National Airspace System (NAS) will take a huge hit, imperiling the air traffic control system, " HAI President Matt Zuccaro said.
MSP Names Thistle Aviation Command Trooper of the Year
The Maryland State Police (MSP) Aviation Command has selected TFC Sean R. Thistle as the agency's 2012 Trooper of the Year. Thistle, assigned to the Salisbury Aviation Section, was selected by his peers for the annual award, which is based on proven performance, dedication and commitment to the mission.
Thistle has been a member of the MSP Aviation Command for four years and has performed numerous airborne law enforcement missions around the state. As a Trooper/Flight Medic, his primary duty is staffing a multi-mission helicopter. He has completed numerous medevac missions safely and with a positive patient interaction.
2013 APSA Awards & Scholarships Nominations Open
APSA presents six annual awards, sponsored by corporate members, which recognize outstanding performance by its members. The winners of the awards epitomize the motto, "to serve and protect from the air". Additionally, APSA provides 18 scholarships totaling $42,000 to recognize the academic excellence of our members' children. APSA funds 12 regional scholarships, which provide $2,500 to each recipient. The remaining six scholarships, like the APSA awards, are funded through the generosity of corporate members and the James Bland Memorial Fund and provide $1,500-$2,500 to each recipient.
Now is the time to nominate that worthy someone for an award and/or apply for a scholarship. APSA is accepting nominations and applications through May 1, and will announce the recipients in July during the 43rd Annual Conference & Exposition. Please visit the Awards & Scholarship section of our website atwww.alea.org/areas/awards/ for submission information.
Don't assume that someone else is nominating that worthy person or that there are so many applicants that you'll never get a scholarship. Take the time now to help recognize excellence in the APSA membership and their families. Nominate or apply today!
Seattle Grounds Police UAS Program
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has put a stop to the Seattle Police Department's unmanned aerial systems program after the agency purchased two Draganflyer X6 aircraft last year. McGinn said he and police Chief John Diaz agreed to end the program so the Seattle Police Department â€œcan focus its resources on public safety and the community building work that is the department's priority.â€ The Draganflyers, purchased with federal funds, will be returned to their vendor. The debate in Seattle over UAS echoes one taking place across the nation as law enforcement agencies seek to utilize this technology.
Aircraft Laser Strikes on Record Pace
In 2012, 3,500 laser attacks on aircraft were documented, up from only 300 in 2005. This year, nearly 350 laser sightings were recorded in January. If that pace continues, more strikes will occur in 2013 than ever before.
Police helicopters suffer many of the laser attacks, but commercial airline pilots have also complained of night blindness and injury caused by laser pointers. Chief Pilot Steve Robertson of the Glendale (CA) Police Department was hospitalized with two burned corneas from a laser. "We treat it like any other crime, I mean it's an assault on police," he said. "We track them down just as we would if they had robbed a bank or if they just committed any other type of assault."
Photographers Wanted: Air Beat Cover Contest
Almost all of the Air Beat covers are taken by APSA members like you, so get out your digital camera and send us the best three photos you have with a public safety aviation element. The contest is open now until May 31. The winner will receive a new Apple iPad on July 17 at APSA's 43rd Annual Conference & Exposition in Orlando, FL.
The photographer must be an APSA member in good standing and can submit only three entries. The photo must have a clear public safety aviation element (aircraft, crew, mission, etc.). Complete submission details can be found at www.alea.org. Don't delayâ€”send us your best shots!
Arlington Police UAS Waiting for FAA Approval
The Arlington (TX) Police Department is expecting to learn in the coming weeks whether it can begin operating two unmanned aerial systems it purchased several years ago. The city bought the small, remote-controlled, battery-operated helicopters, equipped with cameras, in November 2011. Grant money from the Department of Homeland Security paid for the UAS.
City Councilman Robert Rivera supports the technology. â€œIt will help with significant applications across the community, from potential hostage situations to anything that will keep an officer out of harm's way,â€ Rivera said.
The Arlington Police Department planned to launch its program in January last year but was unsuccessful. â€œThe money involved is significant, because these are taxpayer dollars, and anytime you have taxpayer dollars not utilized to the full degreeâ€¦ that is something all of us should keep an eye on,â€ Rivera said.
Arlington does have FAA's permission to test the aircraft away from crowds, buildings and highways. Practice sessions with the aircraft have been restricted to Lake Arlington, behind the police department's training academy.
Cessna Aircraft Now Clear for Soloy LED-Based Lighting Kit
Soloy Aviation Solutions has engineered and received STC approval for an LED-based aircraft lighting kit for the Cessna 206G and 206H model aircraft. The kit installs a second light source on the leading edge of the right wing to complement the factory installed left wing taxi and landing lights. The kit further converts both sides to LED illumination, creating significant visibility improvement in taxi and landing environments.
Soloy's new kit includes the capability to pulse the landing light between the two wings. The pulse feature enhances recognition and visibility from other aircraft in high traffic environments.
Each wing on the Cessna retains its two light bulb configuration after installation. The taxi light uses a diffused lens to cast wider light during taxi operations, while the landing light projects a narrower but more penetrating beam than the current landing bulb.
SOURCE: Soloy Aviation Solutions
CHP Helicopter Helps Save Man From Mountain Lion
California Highway Patrol Air Operations Officers Monty Emery and David White were dispatched to help a hiker who was being stalked by a mountain lion in mid-February. The officers found the hiker frantically waving a flashlight, with the lion standing 20-30 feet in front of him.
There was no suitable place to land. â€œI'd never scared off a mountain lion before using a helicopter,â€ said Emery. The officers flew in low and close to the hiker, frightening the lion, which ran up into the mountains.
Helicopter Crash; Minor Injures To Three
A Texas Parks and Wildlife helicopter crashed on Feb. 14, injuring the three people on board. The injuries to the pilot and two biologists were non-life-threatening, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). DPS helicopters located the chopper about an hour after the crash. According to the agencies, investigation of the crash remains underway. In addition to DPS and Texas Park and Wildlife, FAA is involved in the investigation. The wounded passengers were taken to a hospital in New Mexico following the incident.
Educational Agenda Released for Eastern Region Safety Seminar
Based on the recently released educational agenda for APSA's Eastern Region Safety Seminar, Association members will be treated to some of the most cutting-edge safety information available, March 26-28 in St. Louis, MO.
Hosted by the St. Louis Metro Air Support Unit, the seminar will be focused on stopping accidents before they start, with classes exploring accident lead indicators and human factors risks, as well as the hottest topics in aviation safety, e.g. laser strikes and crew resource management.
Special accommodation rates for the conference are available at the Sheraton at Westport Place Hotel for $105 per night. Register online at http://archives.alea.org/events/detail.aspx?i=134&p=1&d=03/27/2013 or contact Eastern Region Director Dan Cunningham at dcunningham@PublicSafetyAviation.org for more information.
Join APSA for Summer Fun: Annual Conference Coming in July
Think warm thoughts this winter and make your plans now to be in Orlando, FL, July 17-20 for APSA's 43rd Annual Conference & Exposition. As snow and ice sweep across the country, imagine yourself spending a week in the Sunshine State, and come early for our pre-conference courses, July 15-17. All the information you'll need to plan your trip (and come up with a strategy for soaking up the best public safety aviation training available) will be on our website (www.APSA.org) soon.