From the Harford County Sheriff’s Office:
Nearly six months ago, Eagle 1 first took to the skies to aid the operations of Harford County Sheriff’s Office, and the data thus far shows many success stories.
Since April, Eagle 1 and her crew have assisted in 94 missions; 10 resulting in the apprehension of a suspect, 11 successful in locating a missing person or stolen property, one storm damage assessment, five assists to other agencies and six community events, as well as routine air patrol flights. On twenty-two occasions, Eagle 1 was first on the scene.
The use of Eagle 1 has significantly increased the safety to the Patrol members on the ground, by providing safe cover to responding deputies, maintaining sight of a suspect’s movement while deputies approach, and allowing for patrol deputies and other first responders to safely reduce their speed during a pursuit. During the last six months, the Aviation Unit has been called to:
• Assist patrol for location of wanted suspect
• Locate suicidal subjects
• Locate missing juveniles
• Hold a crime scene perimeter
• Assist patrol with aerial support to apprehend suspects fleeing on dirt bikes
• Locate a suspicious subject
• Provided safe cover for deputies on scene
• Assist in searches after an armed robbery
• Assist in searches for vulnerable adults
• Participate in community events
The use of Eagle 1 has also reduced the amount of time patrol deputies are called from the road to participate in a search. During a recent incident, Patrol deputies had been called several times in reference to suspicious subjects running in and out of a 70 acre cornfield, possibly cultivating marijuana and/or using drugs. Patrol requested Eagle 1’s assistance in clearing the cornfield. TFO’s (Tactical Flight Officers) were able to clear the 70 acres both visually and with thermal, returning all three patrol units to their sectors quickly and efficiently
within 10 minutes.
On August 21, Eagle 1 was called to assist in searching for a suicidal person, who had made homicidal threats, as well. Patrol had initiated the search, but requested assistance because the only description available for the suspect’s vehicle was and “older model, white van”.
With the reality of several white vans in the area, and time being of the essence, Eagle 1 was able to assist and quickly search the surrounding area. They found a white van parked in a suspicious location. TFO’s were able to guide Patrol to the location and provide overhead protection while deputies were able to safely take the suspect into custody, without incident or injury.
Sheriff Bane announced the acquisition of a Bell OH-58 helicopter and the creation of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office Aviation Unit on December 3, 2013. At that time, the Sheriff reported,” initially the Unit will be a part-time unit and will be funded by asset forfeiture monies”. He stressed, “No tax dollars were used to create this unit”.
The Aviation Unit is comprised of two pilots and eight TFO’s. These members are assigned as a secondary assignment, and perform these duties in addition to their primary assignment, never leaving their shift without proper staffing. HCSO Aviation utilizes ANVIS 9 Night Vision Goggles (NVG) for night operations, and pilots are NVG qualified. NVG’s are utilized for safety reasons, as well as it providing the TFO’s with an advantage as they can see people (suspects) moving on the ground at night that would not be able to be seen without NVG’s. It also allows them to see ground units and K9’s.
Sheriff Bane commented, “Creating the Aviation Unit was a necessary step to enhancing our Law Enforcement capabilities and protecting the citizens of Harford County. I am thrilled to see that plan turn into a reality. The seamless implementation of this new unit into our patrol operations is something of which every deputy can be proud.”
As members of the Aviation Unit have been out in the community, they have been humbled by the positive reception. Of the early success, Captain Lee Dunbar, Division Commander for the Special Investigations Unit and the Aviation Unit, commented, “We knew from our research and the relationships we’ve established with other law enforcement aviation units around the country that Eagle 1 would be an asset to our communities, as well as to our deputies and police officers on the ground, and our successes so far have proven that. Law enforcement aviation units have been a proven asset for decades and we’re excited that we can offer this valuable and lifesaving resource to the citizens of Harford County.”
Anyone with questions for the Aviation Unit can join us at one of our upcoming displays or join us on Facebook Live. We will be participating in the following events:
– Sept 27, 10;00 am – 2:00 pm at Holy Communion Lutheran’s Fall Festival (Rt. 152 & Connolly Rd)
– October 11, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm at the Fallston VFC Open House (main house)
– October 12, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm at the Jarrettsville VFC Open House (main house)
– October 16, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm Question and Answer session on Facebook Live
– October 26, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm at the Southern Precinct Open House
The following photos were taken courtesy of a Baltimore County resident who is an experienced aviator and avid supporter of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office Aviation Unit. They volunteered their personal aircraft and their own time so these aerial photographs could be taken of Eagle 1 while on routine patrol over Harford County.