Law enforcement agencies nationwide operate a powerful crime-fighting tool — Airbus helicopters.
As the North American market leader for law enforcement helicopters, Airbus supports a wide range of missions, from patrol and surveillance to search and rescue and narcotics interdiction.
These missions are being highlighted at the Airborne Public Safety Association's 50th annual Conference and Expo in New Orleans this week.
“Airbus Helicopters Inc. is proud to support our law enforcement partners across the country who work tirelessly to keep their citizens and their communities safe,” said Ron Kelley, Law Enforcement Segment Manager. “Whether they’re called upon to locate a missing hiker in the mountains or help track down a fleeing suspect, they know that Airbus is with them.”
The H125 is the most popular single-engine helicopter for law enforcement agencies in the U.S., thanks to its versatility, speed, advanced safety features and simplified maintenance.
The twin-engine H145 also ranks high for law enforcement operators, who tout the small footprint, powerful performance and excellent lift capability, which allow the aircraft to carry out the most challenging missions in extreme weather and geographical conditions.
Aircraft are equipped with features that help law enforcement do their jobs, like forward-looking infrared (FLIR), daylight cameras and a communication system that allows officers onboard to communicate with police resources on the ground. Additional equipment opportunities include night vision goggles, a powerful searchlight, external hoist and a tactical mission management system.
New Mexico State Police
As one of only three law enforcement departments in New Mexico with an airborne division, New Mexico State Police flies a range of missions, including search and rescue, patrol, surveillance and narcotics interdiction.
In 2019, the agency acquired an H145 that is among the most highly equipped law enforcement helicopters in service in North America. The aircraft and equipment have given the agency — and state of New Mexico — an elite search and rescue tool that combines power, versatility and excellent hot and high altitude performance.
“No one expects to need search and rescue assistance, but sometimes the unexpected happens,” said Lt. Victor Gallegos, of the New Mexico State Police Aircraft Section. “We are confident that we have the most versatile aircraft with the right technologies that enable us to successfully perform those missions.”
Mississippi Department of Public Safety
Mississippi’s diverse landscape is comprised of plains, farmland and seemingly endless acres of pine, hardwood, swamp and coast grasslands. Temperatures can soar into the 100s, with plenty of rainfall.
When the Mississippi Department of Public Safety sought to replace its aging fleet of helicopters, the H125 emerged as the clear choice due to its excellent visibility, spacious cockpit and flexibility to navigate all of the state’s terrains.
During Hurricane Katrina, the department spent months flying aircraft that were not equipped or capable of responding to destruction of that magnitude, said Capt. Jason Seal of the Mississippi Highway Patrol Air Operations.
“After years of researching aircraft to find something more suitable for our mission and our disaster relief response, the obvious choice was the H125,” Seal said. “With a spacious cockpit and an unparalleled amount of power and speed, I truly believe the H125 is the only single-engine aircraft choice for any law enforcement agency.”
Utah Department of Public Safety
A longtime Airbus customer, Utah’s Department of Public Safety operates the H125 and recently placed an order for two additional aircraft.
The agency’s aircraft are equipped with hoist capabilities, allowing the team to rescue lost civilians in some of the most isolated locations in Utah and neighboring states and lift them to safety.
“We chose to standardize on the H125 three years ago due to its enhanced performance, safety features and versatility,” said Capt. Luke Bowman, chief pilot for Utah Highway Patrol. “The H125 is a solid and reliable high-altitude performer and its wide cabin, flat floor and modified dual sliding doors, make it easy for us to load and unload people and equipment, supporting a wide range of missions.”
Edmonton Police Services
Airbus is the leading helicopter provider for airborne law enforcement missions in Canada, and the Edmonton Police Services is among its long standing customers.
As part of a fleet renewal program to replace their EC120s, Edmonton Police began flying the H125 in 2017 with AIR-1 and now also operates the AIR-2.
Both aircraft come with the latest technologies to provide safe, fast and effective airborne support to the ground-based units they serve for a variety of missions, including surveillance, command and control, search and pursuit, rescue, special operations, transportation and more.
“AIR-1 and AIR, our two helicopters, play an integral role in ensuring citizen and officer safety,” said S/Sgt. Paul Shafer, with the EPS Canine and Flight Operations Section. “They allow us to monitor fleeing vehicles from a safe distance, locate missing persons, find suspects who may be trying to evade police and assist officers on the ground with scene surveillance.”
Riverside Sheriff’s Office
Stretching across Southern California, Riverside County covers cities like Palm Springs, Moreno Valley and Palm Dessert. The Sheriff’s Office needs helicopters that can navigate the grueling hot and high conditions.
Both the H125 and H145 were the solution, with the H125s offering unmatched patrol and surveillance and the H145 providing elite search and rescue capabilities.