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.
Airborne Law Enforcement Pioneer Ken Johnston Dies
Kenneth Johnston, Sr., a helicopter law enforcement pioneer of Port St. Lucie, FL, died on Oct. 11. He was 95. Johnston joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942 and attained the rank of 1st Lieutenant as a pilot instructor/navigator. In 1946, he joined the New York City Police Department and joined the department's Aviation Bureau to fly helicopters three years later. He reached the rank of lieutenant and was in command of the bureau for 15 years before retiring in 1969 and going on to work in private aviation.
â€œI am saddened by the news of Ken's passing,â€ HAI President Matt Zuccaro said. â€œI had the pleasure and privilege of working with Ken in his capacity as commander of the New York City Police Aviation Bureau and manager of the Pan Am East 60th Street heliport. Ken was a true pioneer of our industry.â€
Firefight Ensues Between South African Police Helicopter, Taxi
A helicopter operated by the Johannesburg Metro Police Department in South Africa engaged in a gun battle with a fleeing taxi on Oct. 22 following a high-speed chase. One suspect fled the scene and another was injured.
The driver and a passenger raised suspicion due to a "commotion" at a taxi line, and the vehicle was tracked by police until it tried to speed away from ground officers. The Johannesburg police helicopter was brought into the chase and quickly pinned down the taxi. When the helicopter crew ordered the vehicle to pull over, the passenger pointed a gun at the aircraft, initiating the shootout.
The driver, who tried to flee from the vehicle, was shot in the upper leg and attended by paramedics. He was charged with attempted murder in connection with the passenger firing on police. The other suspect remains at large.
Philadelphia Police Orders Two AStars
The Philadelphia Police Department has placed orders with American Eurocopter for two AS350 B2 helicopters as part of its fleet expansion plan. The purchases were financed through federal grants.
Logging approximately 1,000 flight hours annually, the Philadelphia Police Department Aviation Unit will use the aircraft for general patrol duties, rescue missions and SWAT incursions, as well as in homeland and port security missions. The two AS350 B2s will be delivered in the summer of 2014.
â€œThe AStar has assisted in countless successful missions for some of America's most experienced airborne law enforcement units,â€ Philadelphia Police Department Captain Kenneth O'Brien said. â€œThe aircraft's reputation as a multi-mission workhorse weighed heavily in our decision.â€
Ed Van Winkle of American Eurocopter said the aircraft will also be capable of performing airborne firefighting missions and will be equipped with NVGs. There are more than 200 AStar law enforcement helicopters in service nationwide, according to Van Winkle.
Breaking Down UAS Legislation
Forty-three states introduced 118 bills and resolutions concerning unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in 2013. Sixteen bills have been enacted in 13 states, and 14 resolutions have been adopted by 10 states. The National Conference of State Legislatures recently created the graphic shown here to help summarize the actions.
The 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act requires the administration to â€œestablish a program to integrate unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system at six test ranges.â€ Several states, including Arizona and California, have introduced resolutions supporting efforts to be chosen as test sites. Maryland, Nevada and North Dakota have appropriated funds for the development and potential operation of a UAS test site.
As of July 2012, 201 authorizations have been made for 106 government entities, including law enforcement aviation units, to operate UAS. A recently released FAA list indicates an additional 81 public entities have applied for authorization to use UAS.
Did You Know?
Did you know that besides the annual conference, APSA conducts six regional safety seminars around the U.S. and in Canada each year? Better yet, did you know that registration to these safety seminars is free for members? And even better yet, you are not restricted to attending only the safety seminar in your region, and you can attend as many of them as you'd like for the same low price! To assist you in taking advantage of this major benefit of membership, APSA is producing a 2014 calendar that highlights these as well as other public safety aviation related events. Look for the APSA 2014 Calendar included with your next issue of Air Beat and plan to join us next year!
Missouri Highway Patrol Chopper Crashes During Training
A Missouri Highway Patrol helicopter on a training exercise in late October was forced to perform an emergency landing when its engine failed. Missouri Highway Patrol Pilot Michael Hargus received minor injuries in the incident but required no medical treatment. TFO Jeff Noack was unharmed. Hargus landed the 1969 Bell OH-58 in an open field. The helicopter was badly damaged and transported to the Missouri Highway Patrol hangar.
Park Police Helicopter Unit Again Plays Critical Role
Crew members of the U.S. Park Police Aviation Unit followed up their action surrounding September's Navy Yard shooting by playing a role in the response to a woman who rammed a security barrier at the White House, led officers on a chase down Pennsylvania Avenue and crashed near the U.S. Capitol in early October. One of the unit's three helicopters landed on the National Mall to pick up an injured police officer after the incident. During the Sept. 16 Navy Yard shooting, a U.S. Park Police Aviation Unit helicopter helped pluck victims from a rooftop.
Pilot Dies After Crashing Firefighting Aircraft
A pilot, 43-year-old David Black, flying a firefighting mission in southeast Australia for the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, died following a crash in late October. New South Wales police confirmed his death shortly after the crash occurred. He was the second victim of the Red October bushfires.
Black was flying a fixed-wing tanker aircraft, an M-18 Dromader, and making water drops in support of the unit's helicopter fleet as it fought a blaze in a remote bush land area. Wildfires had been plaguing the country for some time. According to police reports, the terrain was rugged and steep, and the New South Wales Police Aviation Command was sent to the scene following the crash to investigate.
Sonoma County Aviation Crew Aids Windsurfer
The Sonoma County (CA) Sheriff's Department helicopter crew rescued a distressed windsurfer on Oct. 3 during a routine evening air patrol. Pilot Paul Bradley and Deputy Sheriff Chris Mahoney, the tactical flight officer, responded to a radio transmission requesting personnel for an ocean rescue, and within eight minutes spotted the stranded surfer.
The crew saw the man clinging to his board and waving his arms, landed their helicopter, and configured it for a long-line rescue. Mahoney then attached himself to the long-line and Bradley flew him to the windsurfer's location. Mahoney secured the victim and Bradley flew them to shore, where other emergency personnel were waiting. A Sonoma County spokesperson said the unit's flight crews train for rescues in the ocean, on cliffs and other remote areas in the North Coast and carry water rescue equipment.
Grand Forks Authorized for Nighttime UAS Flights
Sheriff Bob Rost of the Grand Forks County (ND) Sheriff's Department announced in late September the department has received FAA authorization to train pilots and others to operate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) at night. The department operates UAS in collaboration with the University of North Dakota and has deployed the aircraft seven times in the last five months.
The unit expects to be fully authorized for nighttime missions by February or March 2014. Only about eight law enforcement agencies nationwide have FAA authorization to operate UAS at this time.
Helicopter Finds Missing Girl Struggling in Marsh
In a mid-October joint-mission, the Tangipahoa Parish (LA) Sheriff's Office and U.S. Customs and Border Protection rescued a 13-year-old girl from marshy water after she disappeared several hours earlier from a Girl Scouts campsite. Tangipahoa Parish sheriff's deputies, along with friends and family of the girl, spent more than two hours searching the area before the girl was spotted struggling in the marsh.
Captain Stuart Murphy, along with the copilot of the helicopter, leapt off the helicopter and into the water, swimming 30-40 feet to reach the girl. The Girl Scout suffered only minor injuries in the two-hour incident. Deputies could not immediately determine how long the girl was in the water because she suffers from a disability that inhibits her ability to communicate.
NJ Troopers Hold Helicopter Demonstration for High School
The New Jersey State Police Aviation Bureau offered a glimpse into airborne law enforcement operations to students enrolled in crime and justice classes at North Hunterdon High School on Oct. 22. The students watched as a police helicopter landed and the pilots, Troopers J. Jorgensen and M. Lefeber, got out of the aircraft to explain the training required to be a police helicopter pilot. The troopers said many of their calls are to conduct searches from overhead.
The students were also allowed to look inside the helicopter, which is one of three of its kind operated by the department. The pilots of the helicopter are stationed in Bedminster.
Snohomish County Sheriff's Helicopter Rescues Hiker
The Snohomish County (WA) Sheriff's Office Helicopter Rescue Team pulled a hiker stranded by snow out of a remote section of the Glacier Peak Wilderness on Oct. 4. The hiker, a Japanese citizen five days overdue from reaching his destination, found himself trapped by 3-4 feet of snow and unable to see well enough to continue hiking.
The hiker had set up camp and was waiting for a rescue team when the Snohomish County Sheriff's Helicopter Rescue Team spotted him waving a handmade flag. He was in good condition and had food remaining when they lifted him to safety.
AeroVironment and Eurocopter Evaluating Joint Opportunities
Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) producer AeroVironment and helicopter manufacturer Eurocopter announced they have signed an agreement to explore opportunities to expand their military and commercial product portfolios. Eurocopter has been working to integrate unmanned flight capabilities into its helicopter family and demonstrated an unmanned EC145 could fly missions requiring deployment of an external sling load earlier this year.
â€œThe combination of AeroVironment's market leading unmanned technology and unique knowledge with Eurocopter's world-class helicopter and systems expertise makes a formidable team,â€ said Roy Minson, senior vice president and general manager of AeroVironment's Unmanned Aircraft Systems business segment. â€œThis cooperative agreement creates the opportunity for both companies to explore expanding into new markets and developing new capabilities to meet future customer needs.â€
AeroVironment developed the first hand-launched unmanned aircraft for military surveillance in 1987. Since then, the company has delivered more than 20,000 new and replacement small unmanned air vehicles to customers within the U.S. and more than 20 international governments. Eurocopter has more than 11,780 civil and military helicopters in service across 148 countries. The company accounts for 33 percent of the worldwide civil and parapublic fleet.
Laser Strikes a Concern for Fiji Police
The Fiji Police Force is the latest international department to raise concerns about the increasing number of laser pointers being directed towards aircraft. In a number of cases, the department's Eastern Division has reported the deliberate and illegitimate use of laser pointers in the vicinity of airports, where they are directed towards aircraft on critical phases of flight such as takeoff, approach and landing.
In response to the events, the department issued a public warning that pointing laser lights towards aircraft on approach to land or departing from an airport could blind pilots and endanger the aircraft and passengers onboard. The department said such actions are a serious breach of Fiji's Air Navigation Regulations and a criminal offense that could lead to prosecution.
Florida Sheriff's Department Upgrades Fleet, Looks to Sell Helicopter
The Seminole County (FL) Sheriff's Office is in the market to sell its law enforcement equipped EC120 B in the course of its ongoing effort to upgrade its fleet. The unit purchased a new AS350 B3 in 2006 to begin replacing its aging fleet of OH-58Cs. In 2008, with a limited amount of funds, it acquired a lightly used 2004 EC120 B and retired its remaining OH-58s. The aircraft flew fewer than 2,500 hours over the succeeding five years, and on Oct. 17, the unit took delivery of a green AS350 B3e, which will match the capabilities of the B3 it currently operates, with some increased payload and technological improvements.
The agency has begun premarketing the law enforcement configured EC120 B in an effort to sell it to another government agency as a startup or backup helicopter. More information about the aircraft is available at:www.seminolesheriff.org/administration/SiteData/SiteDocs/Pages/Helicoptor%20EC120%20Flyer.pdf.
SOURCE: Seminole County Sheriff's Office
Now's the Time: Nominate Your Colleagues for APSA Leadership
The nomination period for APSA elected offices to serve for the term of July 2014 through July 2016 runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15. The following offices are open for nomination: Vice President, Secretary, Eastern Region Director, Northeast Region Director and Western Region Director. Region Directors shall be elected by members residing in their region, and the Director must reside in the region he or she is elected to represent.
Nominations must be submitted by regular mail, facsimile or e-mail and addressed to the APSA Secretary. Please ensure nominations indicate the name of the nominee, the position for which the person is being nominated and the person making the nomination. Both the person being nominated and the person making the nomination must be current members in good standing with the APSA. Submissions must be received or postmarked on or before Dec. 15. The ballots will be distributed to members by mail on or about May 1, 2014, counted during APSA Expo 2014 in Phoenix, AZ, and the results will be announced at the General Membership Meeting on July 17, 2014.
Send your nominations to: Gregg Weitzman, Secretary, Airborne Public Safety Association, 50 Carroll Creek Way, Suite 260, Frederick, MD 21701, or via email to secretary@PublicSafetyAviation.org, or fax to (301) 631-2466.
Tulsa Police Sells Older Helicopter; New One Coming
The Tulsa (OK) Police Department sold one of its two helicopters last month, and a new Eurocopter AS350 B2 will be delivered in April. The new chopper will replace an aircraft that has been on the job for nearly 10 years, which is when the department prefers to upgrade its helicopters, said Sgt. Nick Cory, who supervises the department's seven-officer Air Support Unit.
The Eurocopter will be outfitted with a spotlight, an air-conditioning unit, a forward-looking infrared camera system and police radios, bringing the total cost to nearly $2.5 million, officials said. The sale of the previous aircraft, through a bidding process in September, contributed to funding it successor.
Woman Charged for Pointing Laser at Border Patrol Helicopter
A 20-year-old south Texas woman was jailed in early October following her arrest on a charge of aiming a laser beam at a U.S. Border Patrol helicopter in flight. The woman told police she didn't think, â€œthat [the laser beam] would reach that far.â€
Border Patrol agents were able to track the origin of the laser and sent ground units to the location, where the suspect admitted to the crime. She was arrested and charged with one count of illuminating an aircraft with laser point, a Class C misdemeanor.