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.
Three Rescue Officers Killed in Spain Helicopter Crash
Three policemen died after their rescue helicopter clipped a mountainside and crashed during a mission in northern Spain on Aug. 24. The accident reportedly occurred after the rescue team dropped a fourth crewmember by winch to an injured mountaineer. The surviving crewmember reported seeing the helicopter's rotor blades brush against the mountainside, causing the aircraft to plunge down a slope.
The regional government in Spain said four more helicopters and an ambulance were deployed to the crash site following the incident. The victims, all members of Spain's rural Civil Guard Police, were identified as the pilot, co-pilot and winch operator.
Flight Restriction Results When Ferguson Rioters Fire on St. Louis Chopper
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a temporary flight restriction on Aug. 12 after rioters in Ferguson, MO, fired on a St. Louis Police Metro Air Support Unit helicopter. Ferguson had erupted into sometimes-violent protests after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot. The stated reason for the flight restriction was to "provide a safe environment for law enforcement activities."
The decision to request FAA's help in securing a flight restriction "was made immediately when our St. Louis County Police helicopter was fired at multiple times on Sunday night," St. Louis County Police Spokesman Brian Schellman said. The restriction allowed only relief operations conducted by the St. Louis County Police Department to access a 3-nautical-mile radius around the town. FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro said the agency issues flight restrictions to local law enforcement agencies that provide good reason for them.
Ferguson Incident Draws Negative Attention to Military Surplus Program
The military surplus program, a popular means of obtaining a low cost helicopter for many airborne law enforcement units, has come under increased public scrutiny as images of police outfitted in paramilitary gear have clashed with protesters in suburban St. Louis after the shooting death of Michael Brown.
A spokesman for the Defense Logistics Agency confirmed the Ferguson Police Department has been part of the surplus equipment program. It reportedly has received two tactical vehicles, a generator and a trailer.
On Aug. 27, President Barack Obama announced a review of federal programs that transfer surplus military equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies. The review will decide whether the programs are needed, if agencies are properly trained to work with the military grade equipment they receive, and whether the federal government is effectively keeping track of the equipment and their use.
Final Two of Six UAS Test Sites Start Ops
FAA announced in early August the unmanned aircraft system test site in Rome, NY, has started operations, making it the fifth of the six announced test sites to start operations. Several days after the announcement, the agency said tests had begun at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, VA.
"Having all six national test sites up and running will give us more and better data to help expand the safe use of unmanned aircraft into our airspace," FAA Administrator Michal Huerta said. The site at Griffiss International Airport in Rome is expected to use PrecisionHawk Lancaster UAS for agricultural research and monitoring. Flights of the three-pound, four-foot-wide drones will last less than an hour and take place below 400 feet.
"We are accomplishing two important missions with the launch of this test site," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. "The safe integration of unmanned aircraft into the NAS is our number one priority, but the agricultural research performed in Rome also may have far-reaching benefits to farmers in New York and across the nation."
NightCon's Mark of Excellence and Lifetime Achievement Awards Presented
The 2014 Night Vision Awards selection committee members presented the Mark of Excellence Award, which recognizes a unit/company that signifies dedication to quality and excellence in their operation, to Air Methods Corporation. The NightCon Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to retired San Diego Police Department Pilot Kevin Means. Both awards were presented at the 2014 NightCon seminar in Dallas, TX, on Aug. 20 in front of more than 100 industry leaders.
For his contributions to the advancement of night vision in aviation, Kevin Means (pictured second from left above) received the Lifetime Achievement Award. A longtime APSA member and former president, Means flew with the San Diego Police Department Air Support Unit for 24 years and retired last year. "Night vision goggles were a critical component of our aviation unit's operation for many years," Means said. "As pilots and tactical flight officers, we depended on them nightly, not only for aviation safety, but for tactical effectiveness as well. They enable us to operate much safer and far more effectively than in previous years."
SOURCE: Night Vision Awards
Omaha Police Department Grounded, Returns to the Air
The Omaha (NE) Police Department Air Support Unit was forced to suspend flights for two weeks starting on Aug. 10 when a routine inspection discovered a problem with one of its Bell 206B JetRangers. "We examined one of the fuel filters in the helicopter and saw some black material that we didn't like," Lieutenant Mike Davis said. As a precaution, he suspended operations.
An examination revealed microbial growth inside the fuel tank; however, a simultaneous inspection of the department's other aircraft determined the fuel filters had prevented the spread of the contamination. Continued inspections showed the sludge was the result of a fuel boost pump problem. All aircraft were returned to service after the inspections were completed and airworthiness assured. The Omaha Police Department operates two Bell 206Bs and two OH-58s. It also has several military surplus airframes it uses for parts.
San Jose Police Adds UAS, Answers Allegations of Secrecy
The San Jose (CA) Police Department became the first law enforcement agency in its area to acquire an unmanned aircraft system when it purchased a Century NEO 660 V2 hexacopter for $7,000 in January. The purchase was made public in late July, though department officials have not yet indicated full guidelines for the aircraft's use. San Jose police officials said in early August they "should have done a better job of communicating" with the public about their UAS purchase.
The department bought the UAS using federal grant money for the stated purpose of aiding its bomb squad in assessing threats. The UAS reportedly will be available to 13 other bomb squads around the area, including law enforcement agencies in San Francisco and Oakland. San Jose Bomb Squad Sergeant Douglas Wedge said the UAS costs 95 percent less than bomb robots used for the same purpose.
Though officials have said only the bomb squad will use the drone, the San Jose Police Department is still in the process of drafting its full policies for UAS use. Opposition to UAS use has been particularly fierce in California, where the Alameda County Sheriff's Office and San Mateo County Sheriff's Office have been prevented from acquiring the aircraft. The San Francisco Police Department's recent bid for a UAS also failed.
Texas Man Accused of Pointing Laser at DPS Helicopter
A 20-year-old man is accused of pointing a laser at a Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) helicopter and temporarily blinding the pilot. The man allegedly aimed the green laser at the TXDPS chopper on Aug. 13.
The pilot and co-pilot were conducting routine operations when the "intensity of the light" impaired their control of the helicopter. Ground patrol responded to the residence where two men were seen standing. TXDPS then found a small flashlight, which emitted a green laser light, underneath a couch cushion. The man told authorities he was shining the laser on trees, but he was arrested and charged with illumination of aircraft by intense light, a Class A misdemeanor. The man was booked into the county jail on the charge.
Tulsa Police Receives New AS350
The Tulsa (OK) Police Department Air Support Unit recently added an Airbus AS350 to its fleet. The aircraft was completed for the law enforcement mission by Metro Aviation in Shreveport, LA, and delivered in early August. The single-engine aircraft is equipped with a locking rifle rack, overhead communication panel with flip down monitor, searchlight and FLIR system. Revue Thommen AG of Switzerland provided the helicopter's searchlight.
Before the latest aircraft delivery, the Air Support Unit utilized two Bell 206L4 LongRanger helicopters. The AS350 will replace the older of the two LongRangers.
Dubai Jet Skier Rescued by Police Helicopter
A rider who fell from his jet ski in high seas in Dubai was rescued by helicopter after spending more than 15 hours in the water on Aug. 19. The 34-year-old had been out at sea with a fellow rider when his craft flipped over. He climbed onto his companion's jet ski but again fell off. His friend then returned to shore and called emergency services.
The Abu Dhabi Police Air Wing was called to launch a search and rescue helicopter, but it was initially unable to take off due to low visibility. Eventually, the team was able to get airborne and used night vision goggles and a thermal imager to find the victim. The rider was rescued after 15 hours, which included two refueling stops for the air unit helicopter. After the rescue, the man was taken to a nearby hospital where his condition was described as fair.
Maryland State Police Takes Delivery of Final AW139
The Maryland State Police has taken delivery of its tenth AW139 to be used for the state's emergency medical, search and rescue, law enforcement and homeland security missions. All 10 of the aircraft ordered have been built and delivered from AgustaWestland's Philadelphia assembly line, which operates out of a 275,000 square foot facility on a 39-acre site at Northeast Philadelphia Airport. The Maryland State Police Aviation Command has already begun to benefit from the expanded capability afforded by the AW139 platform.
Spokane Sheriff Expanding Aviation Program
The Spokane County (WA) Sheriff's Office Air Support Unit has acquired two military surplus helicopters to add to its Air 1 program. One of the two OH-58 Kiowas is intended to serve as a backup during Air 1's maintenance downtime; the other is to be used for spare parts.
In addition to the two helicopters, the department received a spotlight from King County that is expected to allow the new aircraft to serve as an effective backup to Air 1. Spokane aviation officers have pointed to Air 1's capability during pursuits as one of the key selling points of the unit. The unit hopes to have the backup helicopter ready to fly by the end of September.
LAPD's Concern for Hobby UAS Grows
Los Angeles Police Department officials recently announced they may set boundaries on the use of hobbyist unmanned aircraft systems because local ordinances are vague and federal regulators have been slow to act. With FAA regulations in limbo due to recent court rulings, virtually no laws are on the books regulating where everyday hobbyists can fly UAS, and incidents are mounting.
mid-August, a California man who often films police activity flew his UAS over LAPD's Hollywood Division parking lot and recorded officers. The man said he was safely and legally standing on the public sidewalk, but police suggested they could arrest him for trespassing because the drone was in an area closed to civilians.
In another incident, a man flew a UAS over the heads of revelers outside the Staples Center after the LA Kings won the Stanley Cup championship. LAPD officials also have said they are concerned about how paparazzi could use UAS to view and film celebrities.
U.K. Driver Arrested for Aiming Laser at Police Chopper
A U.K. man was arrested after allegedly shining a laser beam at a Humberside Police helicopter in North East Lincolnshire. Humberside Police officials said they believed the laser had been aimed at the helicopter from a car. A 40-year-old van driver was later traced and arrested in the area.
Chief Superintendent Steve Graham said anyone found guilty of "endangering the safety of an aircraft in this way" could be jailed. "Incidents of this nature can compromise public safety and for that reason police will always deal with such matters as a priority," he said. The man remains in custody.
Did You Know?
Did you know that the majority of the photography you enjoy in APSA media such as Air Beat, the APSA Calendar, and our website is provided compliments of our membership? That's right, we rely on the shutterbugs amongst you for that outstanding graphic content. So if you are an aspiring photog looking for an outlet or a seasoned lensman with a philanthropic leaning, we need and appreciate your best shots of public safety aircraft and aircrews in action. With our 2015 APSA Calendar starting production soon, and with images for our new APSA exhibit booth in the final selection stages, there is ample opportunity to have your work represent our industry to our members and the thousands that receive our publications, visit our website, or stop by our booth at trade shows such as HELI-EXPO, IACP, NSA, AUVSI and our own APSA EXPO. Photos can be submitted to airbeat@PublicSafetyAviation.org and posted to our website athttp://archives.alea.org/PhotoGallery/submitphotos.aspx.
Mississippi Highway Patrol AS350 Adds Imaging System
The Mississippi Department of Public Safety Highway Air Operations purchased and installed a Cloud Cap Technology TASE 400HD airborne imaging system for its new Airbus Helicopter AS350 B3e in late August. The system delivers day/night thermal imagery, which the department said would be used to support a variety of missions, including routine patrols, hurricane support operations and drug enforcement tasks.
The Mississippi Highway Patrol air wing took delivery of its AS350 B3e AStar in June. The unit's commander, Ron Kelly, said the AStar's cockpit design had proved to be the best "for our mission-specific operation." Lieutenant Jason Seal praised the TASE 400HD for its small size and light weight.
NY State Police Seizes 114 Marijuana Plants
New York State Police, with assistance from its Aviation Unit, seized 114 marijuana plants growing in three Allegany County communities in late August and arrested two residents. State troopers were assisted in the marijuana eradication effort the helicopter crews and state forest rangers.
During the multi-part mission, troopers located illegal marijuana grows in the towns of Alfred, Wellsville and Willing. The Southern Regional Drug Task Force, Wellsville Police Department and Alfred Police Department assisted in the efforts to seize the marijuana plants.
Arizona Sheriff's Aviation Crew Rescues Woman From Floodwater
A Maricopa County (AZ) Sheriff's Office helicopter responded to a call on Aug. 19 about a woman trapped inside a vehicle stranded in floodwater. The helicopter reportedly touched down near the woman's minivan, crewmembers got out of the aircraft, and the pilot, Sergeant Wes Kueffer, waded into the muddy water and pulled the woman to safety. Deputy Joe Sudella assisted Kueffer in the effort. Together, the two men were able to walk the woman through the water to dry ground, where she was wrapped in a blanket.
APSA Welcomes Its Newest Members
Rick Demierre, Elgin (IL) Police Dept Air-One Emergency Response Coalition
Seeker Aircraft America
Western Region Safety Seminar Rapidly Approaching
The time to book travel to Seattle for the Western Region Safety Seminar is now. The event will be held at the Motif Seattle Hotel from Sept. 23 to 25 and hosted by the King County (WA) Sheriff's Office Air Support Unit.
The full educational agenda and registration information is available at www.alea.org/events. While the discounted hotel reservation has passed, there is still time to register for the event. Visit the APSA website or contact APSA Western Region Director Steve Roussell for more information.