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.
Helicopter Crash in Africa Kills Three
A Botswana Police Service Air Support Unit helicopter crashed in mid-April, killing the three crewmembers onboard: Superintendent Keokeditswe Sobatha (pictured), Assistant Superintendent Shepherd Ntobedzi, and Inspector Ricardo Modiri Mabotho. The police helicopter, tail number BPS02, failed to return to headquarters following a mission on April 20.
A search and rescue team was dispatched to find the helicopter on April 24. Debris and the bodies of the three crewmembers were found. Botswana Police Commissioner Keabetswe Makgophe said the helicopter had crashed in the Okavango Delta and offered condolences to the families of the officers but was unable to say what caused the crash.
One of those killed, Superintendent Keokeditswe Sobatha of Molepolole, was an APSA member. The staff and board of the Airborne Public Safety Association are saddened by the tragic accident, and our thoughts and prayers go out to Botswana Police Air Support Unit, their families and everyone affected by this incident.
Grand Forks Obtains UAS Night Flight Approval
The Grand Forks County (ND) Sheriff's Department recently became the first law enforcement agency in the nation granted federal authorization to fly unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) at night throughout its jurisdiction. The department has been flying UAS for more than a year and deployed them nine times on official missions in its partnership with the University of North Dakota's John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.
The Federal Aviation Administration already has authorized the department to fly UAS in 16 counties in northeast North Dakota. The new authorization to fly UAS at night is expected to be an important step in advancing UAS use. Last year, the Grand Forks County Sheriff's Department was forced to end a search for a fugitive who fled on foot through cornfields because of the lack of authorization to fly UAS at night.
Washoe County, Forest Service to Share Helicopter
The Washoe County (NV) Sheriff's Office Aviation Operations and the U.S. Forest Service have signed an agreement that will allow the sheriff's office RAVEN helicopter to be used to help fight national forest fires. People on both sides say the agreement will help firefighters significantly.
The U.S. Forest Service has been working for a year to finish the agreement. With decreasing budgets across the board, sharing resources is critical, the service's officials said. The contract includes a strategy for dividing RAVEN's use among the agencies depending on where a fire is burning. The chopper costs about $2,200 to $2,500 an hour for fuel, operating costs and general wear and tear. The contract will be in effect for one year, and the agencies say they have plans to re-evaluate and renew the contract again next year.
Thai Officer Dies After Fall Out of Helicopter
A Bangkok police officer died of serious injuries sustained from a fall from a helicopter while performing a training mission on April 23. Sergeant Major Monchai Boonpairoj, 52, was pronounced dead at a local hospital shortly after the incident. The fall occurred during an air rescue drill involving two helicopters, each of which had four police officers onboard.
The drill was conducted by Provincial Police Region 1 and Police Aviation Division, explained Provincial Police Region 1 chief Pol Lt-General Nares Nathachote. The officer's leg reportedly was entangled in a sling during the training exercise, possibly causing him to fall from the aircraft. The exact cause of the fall is still under investigation.
Winnipeg Helicopter Helps Save Woman on Ice Floe
Emergency crews in Winnipeg, Canada, rescued a woman in late April who was spotted by a police helicopter as she raced down a local river on a piece of ice. A crowd of people at a waterfront cafÃ© witnessed the event.
Winnipeg Police's AIR1 helicopter alerted other emergency crews immediately when the officers onboard first spotted the woman. Police and onlookers attempted to throw ropes in the water but were unsuccessful in their attempts to rescue the woman. When the ice took her around the river's bend, the water rescue team pulled her from the river. She was taken to a nearby hospital in stable condition.
Metro Air Support Receives International Accreditation
The Metro Air Support Unit, operated jointly by the St. Louis (MO) County Police Department, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and St. Charles County Sheriff's Department, has become the fourth law enforcement aviation unit to be internationally accredited by the Public Safety Aviation Accreditation Commission.
The Metro Air Support Unit was officially recognized for the accreditation on April 17. It is the first multi-jurisdictional flight unit to receive accreditation.
Japan National Police Orders AW139
The Japan National Police Agency has ordered an AW139 intermediate twin helicopter and plans to operate the aircraft in southern Japan. The aircraft is intended to replace an aging Bell 412 and will enter service in 2015.
AgustaWestland reports the agency ordered the helicopter with a law enforcement configuration that includes a rescue hoist, searchlight, auxiliary tank and dedicated avionics systems, such as an enhanced ground proximity warning system and enhanced vision system. The order increases the number of AgustaWestland helicopters performing law enforcement operations in Japan to about 40. The aircraft perform a number of law enforcement roles in the country including search and rescue duties, firefighting, disaster relief and electronic newsgathering.
New Chopper Thrown Into Pursuit
The Monroe County (MI) Sheriff's Office's Aviation Unit was put to work in late March when it was called away from a training mission to assist on a vehicle pursuit. The department obtained the military surplus OH-6A last year.
The chopper was called to join the chase when a man was spotted shoplifting. Monroe County Sheriff's Office Chief David Uhl said the man eluded store security and entered a waiting 2007 Dodge Caravan that sped off. A description of the vehicle was broadcast, and the Aviation Unit happened to be training nearby. Pilots Joe Schumaker and Deputy Donald Duncan made their way to the highway the vehicle was suspected to be on, and the pilots spotted the suspect vehicle heading south. As they followed the van from above, ground forces caught up to it and pulled it over near the state line.
The suspect was charged with organized retail crime, a five-year felony that targets thieves who shoplift items with the intention of reselling them. A judge arraigned the thief and set bond at $5,000.
Dallas' First Female Helicopter Pilot Retires
Senior Corporal Elizabeth "Libby" Cotner, a 20-year APSA member, retired from the Dallas (TX) Police Department Helicopter Unit in early April. In 1994, Cotner became the department's first and only female helicopter pilot, combining her love of law enforcement and flying. "My mother told me years agoâ€¦â€˜if you get a job, make sure you get a job that you love to do, because you'll never work a day in your life,'" she said. "I mean, this was just an awesome ride."
After joining the police department in the late 1970s, Cotner spent her own time and money to earn her pilot's license. She retired with more than 36 total years of service and having logged nearly 3,000 flight hours.
FLIR Hosts Annual APSA Vision Awards
FLIR is proud to host the Annual APSA Vision Awards at APSA EXPO 2014 in Phoenix, AZ. Showcasing the best uses of airborne thermal imaging in a law enforcement mission, this year's Vision Awards ceremony takes place right after another popular event, the annual Pig Pickin' Banquet, on the evening of Thursday, July 17.
"FLIR has been a proud supporter of the airborne law enforcement community for more than three decades," said Andy Teich, CEO of FLIR Systems. "Many of our most innovative technical solutions have come in response this community's operational challenges, and we're thrilled to be able to rise to the challenge."
If you have a video you'd like to enter for this year's Vision Awards, visit www.flir.com/aleavision to send in your entry today! The deadline for submissions is May 30th.
Canadian Aviation Unit Helps Bust Pot Operation
An Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Aviation Unit surveillance mission last July has resulted in the conviction of a 57-year-old man for marijuana production. The OPP Aviation Unit officer told the Ontario Court of Justice he believed he spotted the marijuana grow during a flyover. The area was then inspected, 26 plants were found, and a motion camera was set up. On Sept. 5, 2013, images of a man tending to pot plants were recorded.
The man was identified and arrested on Oct. 24, 2013. The plants were also seized. The man pleaded guilty to the charges and was given a six-month conditional sentence, which will involve house arrest in the first three months followed by a curfew in the final three. He was also put on one-year probation, banned from owning weapons for 10 years and ordered to provide a genetic sample to the National DNA Data Bank (NDDB).
Texas Agency's $250K Police UAS Crashes
The Montgomery County (TX) Sheriff's Office was operating an unmanned aircraft system (UAS), which was bought in 2011 with a federal grant, when it suffered a malfunction and went down during an exercise over Lake Conroe in late April. The $250,000 UAS was equipped with a camera and an infrared scanner.
The agency uses the aircraft for emergency management, missing-person recovery and monitoring SWAT operations. The ShadowHawk remote-controlled helicopter weighs around 49 pounds and has come under some criticism since being purchased. Montgomery County Sheriff's Office officials have emphasized the UAS is not used for surveillance.
Aussie Police Get Clearance to Patrol More Area
The New South Wales (NSW) Police Force Aviation Support Branch in Australia can now patrol areas of Sydney that had previously been restricted. Since it was established in 1979, the aviation unit was forbidden from patrolling large chunks of the city, but two weeks ago, Air Services Australia and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority lifted flight restrictions, and the unit is now permitted to fly over 200 suburbs and the homes of about two million people, among other areas.
Previously, police had to declare a code red to be able to fly into restricted airspace. "The easing of restrictions has given police a whole range of new possibilities for policing in areas where we have previously had to get permission to enter," Detective Superintendent Mark Noakes of the Aviation Support Branch said.
Tribute to a True Gentleman; Melvin Murphy
Submitted by Chuck Hurdleston, Sales and Service Manager, Keystone Turbine Services
On April 27, 2014, Melvin F. Murphy quietly slipped his Earthly bonds and entered into eternal rest in Heaven. For over 38 years he'd served as the sole aviation mechanic and rotary-wing artisan for the City of Virginia Beach Police Helicopter Unit. As many of you know, Melvin was a serious yet quiet man with many passions that can be summed up by three words: Faith, Family and Friends.
Those of us who had the pleasure of knowing Melvin will always remember his quick wit spoken through an open, friendly smile. He never uttered an unkind word to anyone and was always more concerned about you than of himself. He was very passionate about the Helicopter Unit, the missions they flew and the people they served. I particularly enjoyed the times he and his lovely wife Shirley would visit Keystone and, together with our family and friends, we'd hit one of the local Pennsylvania Dutch smorgasbords for an all-out gut-buster dinner. I've kidded Melvin for years that besides earning the title "Hardest Working Man in Aviation," he was also secretly running a full service hot and cold BBQ buffet line inside VBPD's hangar!
When I last visited Melvin (October 2013), cancer had again attacked his body. His once beautiful, deep voice was now reduced to a whisper. Talking was a struggle but we sat and shared lunch and reminisced about old times. Yes, it was painful for him (and me), but he wanted to talk and I wanted to listen.
Melvin, you are truly one of the good ones! This quiet gentleman will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him but we're honored and blessed to have known you as a friend. Your passion for our industry was evident every day and instrumental in keeping the VBPD pilots and crews safe and secure for all these years. Someday, if you're ever fortunate to come across a logbook with his signature affixed, take a moment and remember him. Rest assured you've completed your last annual inspection and now earned a place at the head of the buffet line!
Harford County Sheriff's Helicopter Flies First Mission
The Harford County (MD) Sheriff's Office's new helicopter, acquired over the winter, made its inaugural flight on April 17, according to Harford County Sheriff Jesse Bane. The flight marked "a new era in the history of the Harford County Sheriff's Office," Bane said, enhancing the department's ability to protect public safety.
The Bell OH-58 helicopter, based at the Forest Hill Business Airpark, is fitted with a digital thermal imaging system, spotlight, day camera, police radio, high-powered binoculars and deployable life vests. It will operate only during the day until the pilots become night vision goggle-certified, which is expected by mid-summer.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office Hiring Aircraft Mechanic
The Santa Barbara County (CA) Sheriff's Office has an immediate opening for an aircraft mechanic in their Air Support Unit. Details can be found atwww.sbsheriff.org/jobopenings.html. Interested parties should respond immediately as the deadline to submit an application is May 21, 2014.
Belgium Police Welcomes Aviation Conference
The 2014 PAvCon Police Aviation Conference will be held next month in cooperation with the Federal Police in Belgium. The agency's Air Support Unit, located on the north side of Brussels International Airport, is the site of the conference being held June 3-4, 2014. For complete details, visit www.pavcon.org.
First UAS Test Site Now Operational
The first of six test sites chosen to perform unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research is operational more than two-and-a-half months ahead of schedule, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. FAA granted the North Dakota Department of Commerce team a certificate of authorization to begin using a Draganflyer X4ES at its Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site. The team plans to begin operations around May 5, and the certificate is effective for two years.
The main goal of the North Dakota test site's initial operations is to demonstrate UAS can check soil quality and the status of crops in support of North Dakota State University/Extension Service precision agriculture research studies. But the site also will collect safety-related operational data needed for UAS airspace integration. The information will help FAA analyze current processes for establishing UAS airworthiness and system maturity.
CHP Helicopter Helps Save Couple
Rescuers flying in a Fresno-based California Highway Patrol (CHP) helicopter in late April saved a Utah couple injured high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. CHP dispatched the helicopter to help find a female ice climber who had broken a leg in a fall. The victim was reported to be at an elevation of about 12,000 feet.
After searchers in the helicopter found the victim, 49, and her male climbing partner, 52, they landed for reconfiguring, then returned to the scene. The rescuers dealt with up-and-down drafts, blowing snow and strong winds but were able to retrieve the climbers and deliver them to waiting ambulances. The male climber reportedly sustained a head injury.
Nomination Period for Excellence In Police Aviation Award Open
Nominations are now being accepted for the Excellence in Police Aviation Award given by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The award is intended to recognize an individual who holds a management or leadership position in police aviation and large and small aviation units that exemplify excellence in airborne law enforcement.
To be eligible, the nominee should be an individual who holds a management or leadership position in police aviation (broadly interpreted). The nominee could also be an aviation program (unit) that exemplifies excellence in airborne law enforcement. The award will emphasize initiatives to enhance the general level and safety of operations, accident prevention programs, and the efficiency and effectiveness of airborne law enforcement. Efforts eligible for recognition can range from the unit level to the national or international. The deadline for nominations is June 14. The award will be presented at the 121st Annual International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference and Law Enforcement Education and Technology Exposition in Orlando, October 25-28.
For submission questions, please contact Mike Fergus at (800) 843-4227 x811 or email@example.com.
SOURCE: International Association of Chiefs of Police
Did You Know?
Did you know that APSA has a new employee at the APSA Office? Amanda Ridenour recently came on board as our Administrative Assistant. She comes to us from a background as a legal office associate for a couple of local area law firms and the State's Attorney Office in Frederick. She's the one who most likely answers the phone if you call APSA and the first one that you see when you walk into the APSA office. So next time you call or stop by, be sure to welcome Amanda to the APSA family! If you can't make it by our office, you'll have the opportunity to welcome her face-to-face this July as she will be in Phoenix working alongside the rest of your staff at APSA EXPO 2014.
APSA Welcomes Its Newest Members
The Protective Group
Kevin Crossland, Delaware State Police Aviation Section
Air Beat Conference Preview Issue On Its Way
The Conference Preview Issue of Air Beat will soon be delivered to attendees looking to plan their trip to APSA EXPO 2014, to be held in Phoenix, AZ, July 16-19. The issue will help attendees navigate the exhibition floor and educational agenda before and during the conference.
Attendee and exhibitor information for APSA EXPO 2014 is also available now on the APSA website at http://archives.alea.org/events/annual-conference. Advance registration is open until July 5, so make your plans to attend now!