A parachute hangs from the torch of the Statue of Liberty Aug. 23, 2001, as a police helicopter hovers over the New York landmark. Using a motor-driven parachute to glide above New York Harbor, Frenchman Thierry Devaux was arrested when he became snagged on the statue's upraised torch and had to be rescued by police. (AP Photo/Chad Rachman)
Despite high fuel prices, law enforcement agencies across the United States continue to task their aviation units with missions as varied as drug interdiction, suspect pursuit, and counterterrorism surveillance. As you can read here, Westchester County Police Officer Michael Susi recently told his local newspaper that “Police helicopters can cover an area in an hour that it would take 12 police cars to cover."
In that same article, we learn that just this year, Westchester County has used their helicopters to assist 141 operations and has responded to 187 calls from other jurisdictions, assisting in efforts such as fighting summer wildfires to providing a spotlight to aid in the rescue of stranded boaters on the Hudson River.
Just a year ago in another article posted on PoliceOne, Paul Apolinar, a helicopter pilot with the Phoenix Police Department said, "We're able to get overhead ahead of the patrol officers and increase our chances of apprehending the bad guy." The take-away from that article is that Police helicopters are increasingly becoming commonplace.
PoliceOne continues to enhance our editorial coverage and capabilities to match what's happening out there on the streets (and in this case, in the air) so we're proud to introduce Aviation Columnist Ken Solosky as the newest addition to our roster of writers. Formerly the Chief Pilot for the NYPD Aviation Unit, Ken is now Chief Pilot for the Newark (N.J.) Police Department and is the founder, president, and lead instructor for Code Red Training. Ken will be writing about – among other things – how airborne and patrol officers can best work together.
In addition to Ken's bimonthly columns and tips, PoliceOne editors will be doing our own firsthand reporting on the activities of airborne units and how they can best work with terrestrial law enforcement officers to stop the bad guys.
In the meantime, we want to hear from patrol officers about how have you’ve worked with air support on patrol. Does your department have an airborne unit? Does your agency work with a unit from a neighboring community, city, state, etc? What are some of the things you’ve learned and can teach to fellow officers.
For Chiefs and administrators, a question to you: if you could get the aircraft for free through the federal surplus program, would you take steps to add airborne capabilities?
Please take a moment to let us know what you think by sending email to me or by posting your comments below.