Defund police helicopters.

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by brien23, Jun 16, 2020.

  1. brien23

    brien23 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Nationwide calls to defund police helicopter units, like Los Angeles operates the largest municipal police aviation unit in the country with 19 helicopters and 88 personnel. Just might be a lot of used helicopter on the market in the near future.
     
  2. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    19 helicopters? Seems like a lot.. but LA is a huge city. Having eyes in the sky can be invaluable when pursuing someone on the ground

    -and that's all I'll say about that!
     
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  3. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    seems like every car chase video I've ever seen has been out of LA. need those heli's!
     
  4. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    Doubtful. Considering a number of departments recently upgraded their fleets they'll be flying for years to come as they do more than just "police work." Besides there are now more departments with drones than airplanes/helicopters now so any "defunding" will probably be centered on those due to the ongoing privacy issues, etc. of their use.
     
  5. Salty

    Salty Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I live 3 miles from the county sheriff. After noticing how many flights they make I started tracking them with adsb. This little Florida county has more helicopters than I can count, and they are flying all hours of the day and night in all kinds of weather. County has half million people.
     
  6. brien23

    brien23 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Washington state, King County Sheriff’s Air Support Unit is the only full-time rotary-wing law enforcement aviation unit in Washington State. Four other counties (Chelan, Thurston, Snohomish and Spokane) each operate helicopters. Seems like the only good use is to provide high paying jobs to those who fly them, military helicopters seem to do all the rescue work on TV.
     
  7. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

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    LAPD should just contract with the news choppers...they are both always on each car chase anyway.
     
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  8. flhrci

    flhrci Final Approach

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    FTFY
     
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  9. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    There are other reasons they will probably keep flying. They are a better way to chase from above than endanger cars on the ground. Also when you gotta look for missing kids - way more effective. Also, there are some scenarios brought to life over the last few years that have caused increased federal funding, so bad idea to defund them.
     
  10. Geosync

    Geosync Pre-takeoff checklist

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    “Defunding” is not really defunding. I don’t know why they keep calling it that. When I lived in LA(less than 10 years ago) LAPD ran roughshod over the area, and it wasn’t even south of the hills. An LAPD helo would skim right above the treetops and turn on the nightsun lamp right in our windows at night and talk on the loudspeaker for the hell of it. One night I heard a neighbor’s door getting kicked down, so I peeked my head out of the window and looked down the hall to see 3 cops giggling as they busted the door down. One of them saw me, came over and said “oh this lady lost her keys so we’re helping her get in”. Uh...ok, sure buddy. I went back in and closed the door. About 30 minutes later a sergeant knocked on my door, and asked if i saw anything.

    Now, I’m black, and i didn’t want any trouble, so I just said, just some cops doing something down there, sir. And closed the door. I’ve lived in several urban areas, some arguably worse than LA, especially the Valley. Never seen cop helos do that. Never seen beat cops do that. Anyhow, i think the keep the helos. They also have tactical flight officer training courses for outside agencies so it’s a money making division. An ex-coworker addended it last year.
     
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  11. Tusayan

    Tusayan Pre-Flight

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    I know several years ago, and it may still be the case, that California police departments funded major helicopter unit purchases via drug bust property confiscations. I think this creates motivation for harvesting property from the public, and I’m led to believe that is exactly what happened. Perhaps removing that particular funding mechanism might reduce problems.
     
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  12. Omalley1537

    Omalley1537 Line Up and Wait

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    hardly. Sno Co uses the helo for a lot of SAR work. In fact, almost all the flight time is dedicated to that purpose. Very, very little LE work.
     
  13. Jmcmanna

    Jmcmanna Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Just a story....in 2007-2008 I was walking down Abbot-Kinney in Santa Monica around midnight heading to my car. A LAPD helicopter hovered overhead and shined their spotlight on me as I went down the sidewalk....I have no idea why they drew attention to me.

    I also got a jaywalking ticket ($123 in 2007) for anticipating a “walk” sign less than 2 steps into the intersection. I pointed out while they were writing the ticket that people were running across “don’t walk” signals at the same intersection and was told “we aren’t worried about them right now, we’re dealing with you”.
     
  14. tlglenn

    tlglenn Line Up and Wait

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    I've witnessed the Tucson PD helicopter launch within a minute after receiving reports from airline pilots getting lased. I listened to the tower frequency as they reported finding the guy.
     
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  15. kicktireslightfires

    kicktireslightfires Pre-Flight

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    I'm surprised 19 is all they have. I lived in LA for some time and I saw a police chopper in the sky hovering nearby probably about 4 hours every day -- and I was in one tiny area of LA. And I lived in a fairly good area. LA is such a big area that I honestly would have assumed they would have had closer to 30 or 40 helicopters to cover all of it. I wondered how they afforded for their helicopters to be in the air so often, and then I Googled it and learned that the LAPD has an annual budget in the BILLIONS.
     
  16. kicktireslightfires

    kicktireslightfires Pre-Flight

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    Haha, so true! Not just car chases, really anything news worth and a news chopper is there. And almost anything a police chopper is there for is newsworthy. They should join forces! Good idea. But the news choppers would then have to get clearance to fly lower. Only the police choppers can fly at 500 feet (and lower) above LA. If you see a low chopper in LA, it's always a police helicopter. The news helicopters have to stay at 1,000 feet AGL or higher.
     
  17. N1120A

    N1120A Pattern Altitude

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    They don't need them for that. Just get the plate and let them go.
     
  18. ateamer

    ateamer Line Up and Wait

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    There’s nothing in the FARs that says that. The police and news pilots have an agreement with each other about altitudes and work together to deconflict.
     
  19. brien23

    brien23 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Sounds like your one of those volunteer rescue for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office that cost the county plenty of $$$ so you can go play with the Helicopters.
     
  20. Omalley1537

    Omalley1537 Line Up and Wait

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    Nope.
     
  21. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Cleared for Takeoff

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    Not sure what you consider "high paying jobs" when it comes to LEO helicopter pilots.

    Fact is those helicopters are there to do more than rescue work. They are an aerial platform that provides wide area surveillance that can aid in being able to see the entire area of a crime scene, airborne tracking of vehicles, especially high speed vehicles. For locating someone that's lost, the helicopter gives a vantage point of being able to look down into an area rather than from walking level. These LEO helicopters are also equipped (typically) with Night Vision Googles, FLIR and NightSun systems.

    In addition, the LEO helicopter can direct ground traffic to an area faster.
     
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  22. RalphInCA

    RalphInCA Cleared for Takeoff

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    LA might “only” have 19, but then you add in the helicopters for the other cities in the area (Pasadena, Ontario, orange county, Long Beach, etc. etc.) plus the sheriff helicopters and that adds up to a lot more.
     
  23. brien23

    brien23 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Short sighted cuts to the police are coming, their aviation units have always been on the chopping block. Do they work and save lives , yes in some units others more of a toy to play with.
     
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  24. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Cleared for Takeoff

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    So you have inside knowledge of these various units, such as budgets, etc?

    So explain how they are used as "toys to play with". Give us some specific examples.
     
  25. brien23

    brien23 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Sorry if you work in the units and expect cuts you must have some internal knowledge with your statements. Give us some specific examples.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2020
  26. SToL

    SToL Line Up and Wait

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    Pt 135 - min alt 300' over congested area
    Pt 91 - whatever floats your boat, provided without hazard to persons or property on the surface... or with the exception of routes or altitudes specifically prescribed by the FAA
     
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  27. SToL

    SToL Line Up and Wait

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    There's no question that they provide a service and substantial aid to law enforcement on any department. The only debatable question is if they provide enough of a benefit to offset the cost.
     
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  28. SToL

    SToL Line Up and Wait

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    My guess is that was just a fluke... they were probably already in the process of getting ready to go... because 1 minute is just not a reasonable response time even if you're already sitting in the helicopter. It takes time to put your seatbelt and harness on, put your helmet on, start up 1 or even 2 engines, warm up, throttle up, generators on, get atis, talk to tower or CTAF, figure out where you're going, and lift off. This doesn't even take into account all the crap the fto has to prepare and setup.
     
  29. SToL

    SToL Line Up and Wait

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    What a great idea. How come no one has ever thought of that before?
     
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  30. SToL

    SToL Line Up and Wait

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    Absolutely correct. Very few departments pay pilots that well, and even when they do pay decent, it's no where near what you can make flying helicopters in the private sector or some gov contract work.
     
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  31. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Viewed as an hourly rate, that's true. Over the course of a career, the LEO pilot probably comes out ahead. That paycheck keeps coming whether the barrel o oil is $140 or $20. Training is paid for, you put in your 23 years and retire with a pension + healthcare. In the private sector you have to squirrel away a lot of money to make up for the predictability and fringe benefits of a public sector job.
     
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  32. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Instead of defunding police and sending social workers on 911 calls, they should increase the funding and ADD a social worker to the single officer police car.
     
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  33. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Cleared for Takeoff

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    Never said I did, and I don't. However I do have some knowledge on the inner workings of LEO helicopter use.

    Nice deflection of my question though. So in essence your statements on the subject are simply your opinions with nothing to back them up?
     
  34. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Cleared for Takeoff

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    IIRC, the LEO and news gathering helicopters in LA have a MOU on altitudes so they don't create collision hazards.
     
  35. kyleb

    kyleb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    C'mon man, there is no doubt some (not all, not most, SOME) departments are wasteful in their helicopter programs. A buddy used to go on helicopter ride-alongs with one of the departments here in the Atlanta area and had a lot more stories about how the helicopters were used more for fun and games than for actual police work. Also, how the game was to acquire ex-military helicopters, IRAN them at substantial cost, and flip them for what the department really wanted. The key there was the ex-military stuff was "free", and they could hide maintenance expenses much more easily than the capital outlay to buy new helicopters, so they gamed the system that way and never had to ask the County for money for new helicopters. They just spent huge maintenance bucks then horse traded for what they wanted.
     
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  36. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips En-Route

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    But "someone else was using my car", always.
     
  37. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Cleared for Takeoff

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    C'mon man, please tell us your background in helicopter operations and maintenance.

    Yes, some LEO's get mil surplus helicopters from a program that's been around for decades. And they get surplus parts through the same program. Otherwise, those airframes and parts sit in storage to await scrap at some point in their lives. So in that respect, the program is good as it allows the resources which are already been paid for by the tax payer to be used in another government use and reduced cost.

    Helicopters are expensive to maintain and operate, no doubt. While getting the airframe and parts for next to nothing, the labor is still there as are the insurance requirements, training and special use accessories (Night Vision, FLIR, Night Sun, electronics). Unlike the hobbiest aircraft owners who skimp on costly maintenance, these LEO's keep the maintenance up as their lives depend upon the machine, so yes, it's expensive.

    I will agree that there maybe some (none I've been associated with) that may game the system. But you can look around any government agency and find abuse.
     
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  38. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Under what surplus program was that done ? Sounds interesting, tell us more about it.
     
  39. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    Don't know where you got that info from, but the LEO aircraft we worked on at the old day job could hardly hide their mx costs. And the ones that tried didn't come back the next year as their program was cancelled. Are there departments that play the game, sure, but they are usually small towns/cities/counties where municipal workers also cut the mayors and chiefs grass as SOP. And it's not that they have to "hide" their mx costs. They either don't follow, nor are required to follow, the mx rules (public use) or they simply maintain the helicopter as your average GA private owner does with an "annual" and fix what they want to. It is what it is.
     
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  40. Bell206

    Bell206 En-Route

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    It's changed names a few times but I think it is still considered the 1033 program through the DoD. There is a specific department which handles DoD transfers of surplus equipment (aircraft, vehicles, weapons, etc) to various civilian LEO departments. There's another level via a different DoD department that handles the surplus sales to the general public via auctions.
     
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