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.
Dubai Air Wing, Charles Guess Win IACP Excellence in Police Aviation Awards
The International Association of Chiefs of Police Aviation Committee bestowed the 2014 Excellence in Police Aviation Large Unit Award on the Dubai Police Air Wing, H.Q. of Dubai Police, United Arab Emirates. In addition, Major Charles E. Guess of the New York State Police Aviation Unit won the award in the individual category.
The Dubai Police Air Wing was established in 1978 as the first air support unit in the Middle East. The 18 pilots, six crewmembers and 38 supporting employees provide patrol, security and search and rescue to a population of more than 2.2 million. Pictured here (left to right) are: Captain Don Roby, Baltimore County PD and Aviation Committee Chair; Colonel Michael Edmonson, Louisiana State Police and General Chair, IACP Division of State and Local Police; Lieutenant Fahed Alharthi, Ministry of the Interior, U.A.E., accepting on behalf of the Dubai Police Air Wing; and Carl Crenshaw, Bell Helicopter
Major Charles E. Guess is a 24-year member of the New York State Police and a U.S. Army veteran, where he piloted helicopters as a member of an air cavalry unit. As director of aviation for the New York State Police Aviation Unit, he oversaw rescue operations following Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, for which the unit received national recognition. Major Guess accepts his award from Captain Don Roby, Colonel Michael Edmonson, and Carl Crenshaw.
The awards were presented on Oct. 27 at the 121st Annual IACP Conference and Law Enforcement Education and Technology Exposition in Orlando, FL. Sponsored by Bell Helicopter, the awards recognize outstanding contributions to law enforcement and public safety by individuals and air support units.
Pointing Laser at Chopper Earns Texas Man Two Years
A 25-year-old Austin, TX, man has been sentenced to two years in prison for pointing a laser at an Austin Police Department Air Support Unit helicopter. The man was sentenced in early October after pleading guilty in July.
Federal law bars aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft, and prosecutors say the Texas man used a laser strong enough to reflect inside the cockpit, causing the pilot to turn his head and avert his eyes. The chopper crew helped Austin ground police locate the man, who was found with the laser pointer in his pocket. The incident prompted air traffic controllers to issue a warning to all pilots in the area.
NTSB Releases Report On Alaska DPS Accident
On Nov. 5, 2014, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the March 30, 2013 crash of an Alaska Department of Public Safety helicopter was caused by the pilot's decision to continue flying into deteriorating weather conditions as well as the department's "punitive culture and inadequate safety management."
The crash occurred on a mission to rescue a stranded snowmobiler near Talkeetna, Alaska. The pilot, another state trooper and the snowmobiler were all fatally injured. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's "exceptionally high motivation to complete search and rescue missions," which increased his risk tolerance and adversely affected his decision-making, the NTSB found.
Among the recommendations the NTSB made today as a result of the investigation was for Alaska and other states to develop and implement a flight risk evaluation program. "These brave few take great risks to save those in harm's way,'' said NTSB Acting Chairman Christopher A. Hart. "There needs to be a safety net for them as well."
Among the findings was that the Alaska Department of Public Safety (DPS) lacked policies and procedures to ensure that risk was managed, such as formal weather minimums, formal training in night vision goggle operations and having a second person familiar with helicopter rescue operations involved in the go/no-go decision.
During the investigation of this accident, NTSB found that the pilot had been involved in a previous accident. It was found that the DPS's internal investigation of the earlier accident was too narrowly focused on the pilot and not enough on underlying risks that could have been better managed by the organization.
The NTSB concluded that DPS had a "punitive culture that impeded the free flow of safety-related information and impaired the organization's ability to address underlying safety deficiencies relevant to this accident."
Since 2004, the NTSB has investigated the crashes of 71 public helicopters responsible for 27 deaths and 22 serious injuries."Public agencies are not learning the lessons from each other's accidents," Hart said. "And the tragic result is that we have seen far too many accidents in public helicopter operations."
As a result of the investigation, NTSB made recommendations to Alaska, 44 additional states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia and the Federal Aviation Administration. To read the synopsis of the NTSB Alaska investigation and hearing, click here.
Arlington Police Uses Quadcopter to Survey Storm Damage
The Arlington (VA) Police Department Aviation Unit has been test flying an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) since 2011, and in early October, the department put it to use to survey the damages caused by a powerful storm. The department's Leptron Avenger quadcopter, purchased with $202,000 in federal grants, had been deployed on two missions in 2013 prior to the storm event.
The images were captured by Sergeant Brook Rollins with permission from the private property owners and provided to Arlington's Emergency Operations Center to help city leaders prioritize areas of storm cleanup, said Lieutenant Christopher Cook, an Arlington police spokesman. "A lot of times, our damage assessments comes from field personnel on the ground. They are able to use camera equipment to shoot up but you really can't tell how extensive the damage is without getting a bird's eye view," Cook said.
The Arlington Police Department obtained FAA approval to fly its UAS for public safety purposes in February 2013. The department's Certificate of Authorization allows flights within the city limits anywhere south of Interstate 30, giving its operations some distance from the airspace of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. The department has seven licensed UAS pilots.
Two Sheriff's Departments Add Bell Helicopters
Bell Helicopter Textron announced the sale of two Bell 407GXs to two sheriff's aviation departments in late October; one to the Maricopa County (AZ) Sheriff's Office and the other to the Contra Costa County (CA) Sheriff's Department. The two departments will use their new helicopters to perform a variety of para-public missions in their communities.
The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is located in Phoenix, AZ, and has been a customer of Bell Helicopter for over 15 years since the purchase of their first Bell 407 in 1998. The Contra Costa County Sheriff's office, located in Martinez, CA, has provided policing services for over 50 years and has been a customer of Bell Helicopter for nearly 20 years, operating a Bell 407 and 206B-3.
SOURCE: Bell Helicopter
U.K. National Police Air Service Contracts for Mission Software
The U.K. National Police Air Service (NPAS) has contracted with CarteNav Solutions Inc. to provide mission software for a third of its EC-135 helicopter fleet. Bond Helicopters Europe recently won a multi-million dollar contract to design, integrate, certify, and install a next-generation mission system into seven NPAS aircraft, and CarteNav Solutions will provide the software for the upgrade.
In addition to the mission system technology, the upgraded helicopters will be equipped with a number of sensors, including a state-of-the-art camera, and the interior of each aircraft will be redesigned with touch-screen displays and an ergonomic layout, giving the crew more space in which to work. CarteNavs software will integrate an MX-10 camera system with a number of other sensors and tools that will improve the operators' situational awareness and provide a highly capable and intuitive operating system.
SOURCE: CarteNav Solutions Inc.
Nominate Your Colleagues for APSA Leadership Now!
The nomination period for APSA elected offices to serve for the term of July 2015 through July 2017 are open now through Dec. 15. The following offices are open for nomination: President, Treasurer, Secretary, Canadian Region Director, Central Region Director and Southeast Region Director.
Only Individual Members who are employed or appointed as peace officers by a governmental law enforcement agency under the laws of any state or nation, whose duties and responsibilities include the assignment as air crew in or supervision and management of the agency's aviation and/or alternative aircraft operations unit, section, division or department may hold office. 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, 2015, counted during APSA Expo 2015 in Houston, TX, and the results will be announced at the General Membership Meeting in July 2015.
Send your nominations to: Rob O'Quinn, Canadian Region Director and Secretary Pro Tem, Airborne Public Safety Association, 50 Carroll Creek Way, Suite 260, Frederick, MD 21701, or via email toroquinn@PublicSafetyAviation.org, or fax to (301) 631-2466.
LAPD Chopper Makes Emergency Landing
A Los Angeles Police Department helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing in South Los Angeles on Oct. 10. The helicopter landed under its own power, and officers then responded to its call for assistance. The aircraft reportedly showed a warning light, prompting the precautionary landing. There were no injuries to anyone in the aircraft or on the ground. Authorities were investigating the circumstances of the landing at press time, and it was not clear what mechanical issue the vehicle experienced.
CHP Helicopter Crew Finds Lost Off-Roaders
A California Highway Patrol (CHP) helicopter crew rescued a young family and their friend whose jeep had become stuck in rocky country last month. The family had taken a day trip from the Lake Tahoe side of the off-road trail when their jeep got stuck and they could not free the vehicle.
The group found a vacant tent and camped overnight before walking to a location where they could establish a cell phone signal and make a 911 call. The El Dorado Sheriff's Office then requested support from the CHP crew, which included pilot Jason Hertzell and TFO-paramedic David White. The officers were able to find the group using a satellite telephone. All were in good health.
New Police Helicopter to Serve Western Maryland
The new Maryland State Police helicopter that will serve Western Maryland was unveiled in mid-October. The $11.8 million helicopter will respond to accidents, participate in rescues and help search for fugitives from the air. The AgustaWestland AW139 will respond to mutual aid calls in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
According to a police statement, the new helicopter contains the latest equipment, including terrain-awareness warning systems, night vision capability, cockpit voice and video recorders, radar altimeters, satellite tracking and advanced instrument flight rating capabilities. The aircraft will be crewed by two pilots and two medical flight personnel.
Maryland State Police Helicopter Flashed by Laser Pointer
The Maryland State Police helicopter based in Frederick, MD, was hit by a high-powered green laser on October 12. The pilot and crew of Trooper Three were returning to Frederick Municipal Airport from a medevac mission when they were struck. They then contacted ground officers nearby, and troopers visited the origin of the laser.
Officials determined a 12-year-old boy was using the laser. Stargazers often use such "astronomy" lasers to locate objects in the sky. The incident is still under investigation by the Maryland State Police and federal authorities.
Police Use UAS to Arrest Drunk Driving Suspects
The Mesa County (CO) Sheriff's Department used an AeroVironment Qube unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to capture four suspects who fled police after a suspected DUI stop in late September. Reports indicate the men were the first Americans to be arrested with the help of a local police UAS.
Mesa County's Qube is a small aircraft and can be packed into a trunk and assembled and deployed in as little as five minutes. Instead of giving chase when the men fled their vehicle, police quickly deployed the Qube and tracked the suspects remotely.
Missing Boater, Dog Rescued From Lake Poinsett
The Brevard County (FL) Sheriff's Office Aviation Unit rescued a missing boater and his dog in late October. The sheriff's office said Chief Pilot John Coppola flew the helicopter over the lake and successfully located the missing boater in distress. The man was reported to be clinging to his overturned 14-foot boat.
Officials said Coppola hovered over the victim while TFOs jumped from the helicopter into the water with a life jacket to rescue the victim. Once the officers secured the victim and dog, Coppola located another boater not far from the area. He then directed the boater to the scene of the incident to take the rescued victim and pet aboard. The victim was taken to the shoreline and transported to a nearby hospital. The victim was physically exhausted but otherwise in good health.
Tupelo Police Helicopter Headed to State Surplus
The Tupelo (MS) Police Department announced it is turning over its 1967 Bell OH-58 helicopter to the state. Published reports say the city council approved Police Chief Bart Aguirre's recommendation to give the helicopter to Mississippi's Office of Surplus Property. The single-engine, four-passenger vehicle is valued at $200,000, city insurance records show. Police say the costs for fuel, storage, insurance and other requirements cost Tupelo taxpayers roughly $50,000 a year. In the past fiscal year, Tupelo budgeted $20,000 for maintenance and $3,600 for professional pilot fees. No funding was provided this year.
Massachusetts Police Locate Missing Hiker
The Massachusetts State Police located and retrieved a woman who had become lost while hiking in Western Massachusetts on Oct. 10. The department said its helicopter and thermal imaging camera were critical in the rescue.
The woman had been reported missing by her husband, who was able to help determine her approximate location. The police helicopter was dispatched, along with personnel from the Department of Conservation and Recreation, local EMS and Washington Fire Department. Using its thermal imaging system, the helicopter located the woman within two hours. A video released by police shows the woman being found:www.airmedandrescue.com/massachusetts-hiker.
Columbus Police Helicopter Back Flying After Scare
A Columbus (OH) Police Department helicopter is back in service after it made a precautionary landing in late September. According to police, the pilot found a temperature gauge was out, and while there was no apparent engine problem, he landed the chopper to be safe. Maintenance crews were able to replace the gauge the next day and fly the aircraft back to the heliport.
No one was hurt in the incident, and the helicopter was not damaged. The helicopter unit has been in place since 1971 and responds to about 7,000 calls each year. The unit's fleet was grounded last year after an outside audit revealed gaps in maintenance records, but pilots say the latest incident was unrelated.
Snohomish County Helicopter Rescues Hiker, Two Dogs
The Snohomish County (WA) Sheriff's Office Helicopter Rescue Team located and rescued a lost and stranded hiker along with her two dogs while assisting King County Search and Rescue Teams in the Cascade Mountains on Oct. 9. The 21-year-old woman became lost for three days after setting off on an 11-mile hike. Rescuers from the Snohomish County team spotted the woman waving from a log lying across a river. She was hoisted out of the heavy timber using a rescue vest, and her dogs were hoisted out using a dog harness. All were in good condition. See video of the rescue at https://vimeo.com/108635731.
SOURCE: Snohomish County Sheriff's Office
SLED Adds New Helicopter
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) Aviation Unit has contracted MD Helicopters, Inc. to design and build a specially equipped MD 500E. SLED's MD 500E will be equipped with a 420-shp Rolls-Royce 250-C20B turbine engine and a full complement of police tactical equipment, including the fully automated Trakkabeam A800 searchlight and FLIR Star SAFIRE 380-HDc high-performance HD imaging system, to ensure optimal situational awareness in support of both nighttime and daytime operations.
The MD 500E cockpit configuration includes a full complement of modern avionics with NVG lighting, a Garmin G500H EFIS all-glass avionics flight display, a Churchill Navigation map system with a touch screen monitor, and a Vislink HDX-1100 for top quality air-to-ground communications with tactical ground teams. Utility features include an auxiliary fuel tank and an MD-designed multi-purpose side mount, allowing SLED's MD 500E to hold more weight without compromising operational performance. MD Helicopters will deliver SLED's new custom-configured MD 500E by the end of 2014.
Montgomery County Plans to Replace Crashed UAS
The Montgomery County (TX) Sheriff's Office added a ShadowHawk unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to aid its SWAT operations in 2011, but the $250,000 aircraft crashed into a lake after its rotor blade came apart in midair during a training exercise in April. Police officials now say they plan to replace the aircraft.
Montgomery County became the first local law enforcement agency in Texas to receive an FAA license to operate its own UAS in 2011. The agency has indicated it wants to continue to be on the cutting edge of UAS technology, and county commissioners recently approved using insurance money from the wrecked UAS to buy another one.
NY State Aviation Helps Get Injured Hikers to Safety
New York State Police Aviation Unit was called on to help when a woman sustained a leg injury during a mid-October hike. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation forest rangers were called when the 52-year-old was reported to have been too injured to hike out of her location. The rangers were able to locate the woman using information provided by witnesses; however, they were unable to escort her out on their own and called for assistance from the aviation unit. The woman was airlifted to a nearby medical center for treatment.
Report Questions UAS Use in U.K.
Five police forces in the U.K. are reported to be using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for surveillance purposes. A new report is now questioning how and when they should be used.
The use of UAS in the U.K. is expected to rise over the next 20 years, and the report, published by The University of Birmingham, called for "urgent" measures to safeguard British airspace and privacy. The police forces named in the report as UAS users are Staffordshire, Merseyside, Essex, Wiltshire and the West Midlands. The University of Birmingham Policy Commission Report noted the concerns posed by UAS but also acknowledged greater use could bring "significant benefits" to the U.K.'s security and economy.
Currently under U.K. law, UAS under 20 kg can be used within sight of the operator and with permission from the Civil Aviation Authority. The report states that enforcing breaches is likely to become a major policy issue.
Prison Officials Opt for Aerostat Over UAS
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections recently launched a $170,000 aerostat to monitor security at the Lebanon and Warren Correctional Institutions. Officials had been considering using an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to provide video of the prisons' grounds and detect unwelcome visitors.
"We believe these vehicles and sensors can be useful," said Ed Voorhies, the managing director of Ohio's prisons. "There's no denying, we're trying to find ways to attack and prevent that external threat, which is ever increasing, in our prisons."
The prisons will test additional UAS systems in November. Two different types of UAS, one helicopter and one fixed-wing solution, will be tested for roughly 30 days each. Once testing is completed, prison officials will decide if they want to proceed with UAS use on prison grounds.
Airbus Helicopters Featured Seminole County Chopper During IACP
Airbus Helicopters Inc. featured the Seminole County (FL) Sheriff's Office new AS350 B3e AStar at the 2014 International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Conference in Orlando, Oct. 25 to 28. The Seminole County AStar is equipped with an advanced avionics and mission equipment suite that enhances crew safety and law enforcement operational capabilities. The suite includes the Garmin G500H electronic flight information system, Wescam MX-10 thermal imager, Spectrolab SX-16 searchlight and AeroComputers UC-5100 moving map system. The helicopter is also equipped with a Breeze-Eastern 450-pound rescue hoist.
APSA Welcomes Its Newest Members
Matthew Austin, Huntington Beach (CA) Police Department