From the Harford County Sheriff’s Office:
[April 17, 2014, Harford County, MD] — Sheriff L. Jesse Bane has announced the Harford County Sheriff’s Office Aviation Unit became operational today with Eagle One and her crew’s inaugural flight taking off at 11:30 a.m.
Speaking to the successful launch of the new initiative the Sheriff said, “This is truly an exciting day for the Sheriff’s Office, a milestone in our agency, marking a new era in the history of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office. Through the hard work and dedication of our Aviation Unit project team we are adding yet another valuable proactive law enforcement resource to our capabilities thereby enhancing public safety and aiding in the overall reduction and mitigation of crime”.
Bane explained that initially Eagle One will fly daytime missions only until the pilots become Night Vision Goggle (NVG) certified. “This training, while not required is necessary and highly recommended by police aviation units in Maryland and across the country, and will take several additional months to complete”, the Sheriff said, adding, “We want our pilots to receive the most comprehensive training available and this certification adds to their qualifications and makes them more versatile”, he said, adding, “We expect to begin night-time missions by mid-summer”.
Lt Lee Dunbar, of the Aviation Unit ,explained both pilots have extensive flying experience to include combined experience in such helicopters as the US Army’s AH-1 Cobra, UH-1 Huey, the Bell OH-58 the 280FX Enstrom, the Bell 206 Jet Ranger and the Bell 407. “For several months now, Dunbar said, the pilots and Tactical Flight Officers (TFOs), have been actively training with the Baltimore County Police Department’s Aviation Unit where training consisted of ground school, safety techniques, water survival and cockpit egress methods, flying law enforcement missions in a safe and effective manner, crew resource management, onboard aircraft equipment familiarization and utilization, in-flight practical and real life training scenarios”.
Dunbar also explained the Aviation Unit will be based at the Forest Hill Air Park and fly with one pilot and one or two TFOs depending on what the mission calls for. He further described Eagle One will fly the following types of missions:
– Fugitive Searches
– Critical Infrastructure & Homeland Security Assessments
– Assist other law enforcement agencies
– Assist K-9 Searches
– Post Disaster Assessment
– Marijuana Eradication
– Crime Scene Photography
– Foot and Vehicle Pursuits
– Traffic Assessments
– Protests and Demonstrations
– Community/Public Displays
– Missing Persons
– Stranded Boaters
Project Manager, Captain Duane Williams, says “Eagle One is a Bell OH-58 helicopter designated as public use by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Williams explained, public use in this context means only mission essential personnel can crew the aircraft. “The helicopter cannot transport persons for hire, or be compensated, or be used to transport people to meetings or events”, he explained. Williams also noted that recently the Aviation Unit, under a Department of Defense program, was awarded an upgraded digital FLIR 7500 Bravo system. The system had been previously utilized by the National Guard and will provide HD picture quality, additional monitors, and much better resolution and infrared capability when searching for wanted or missing persons. He also explained the helicopter is outfitted with the following mission equipment:
– FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared)
– Day Camera within the FLIR system
– 16 Million Candle Power NightSun Spotlight
– Police Radio equipped with all the Baltimore Metro channels
– Image Stabilized High Powered Binoculars
– Deployable Life Vests and Rings
Sheriff Bane detailed his plans for the creation of a Sheriff’s Office Aviation Unit and the initial unveiling of Eagle 1 to the public can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFAZEGo_HZg .