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ALEA E-Newsletter : 2016-April


April 2016 Airborne Law Enforcement Association, Inc.
ALEA E-Newsletter

ALEA Eagle seal transparent

In This Issue:

Four Officers Killed in Northeast Colombia Helicopter Crash

Las Vegas Orders New Helicopter for SAR OPs

Michigan State Police Encounter Two Laser Strikes in Two Days

Police Say Man Purposely Flew UAS Near N.C. Helicopter

Deceased STAR Flight Medic Likely Not Strapped in Properly

ALEA Hosts Online Group Meetings; SMS Educational Webinar

New Scotland Police Helicopter to Get Black Box

ALEA Now Accepting 2016 Award Nominations & Scholarship Applications

Man Jailed for Dallas Police Laser Strike

ALEA Leaders Weigh in on Surplus Program Changes

Did You Know?

San Diego Sheriff Considering UAS Deployment

Orange County Sheriff Adds H125

Finnish Border Guard Receives New H215

Small Alabama Department Adds UAS

Enter Air Beat Magazine's Photo Contest; Win iPad with SMS!

Connecticut UAS Bill Too Broad, Police Say

Irishman Arrested for Shining Laser at Police

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Aviation Unit Celebrates 45 Years of Service

FAA Releases Figures on UAS Registration; Encounters Up

ALEA Welcomes New Members

Northeast Region Safety Seminar Heads to New York

Register Today for ALEA's Exceptional Weeklong Conference and Exposition!

E-Newsletter Sponsors:

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UTC Aerospace/Cloud Cap Technologies

Broadcast Microwave Services

FLIR Systems


ALEA Resources:

Get Your Organization's News Online

Advertise With ALEA

ALEA Membership Benefits

ALEA Sponsored Training and Education


ALEA's E-Newsletter is designed to help keep you informed on the very latest happenings in the piblic safety aviation community. The E-Newsletter may also be read online here at our website.

Four Officers Killed in Northeast Colombia Helicopter CrashFour Officers

A National Police of Colombia helicopter crashed in early March in the northeast part of the country, killing all four police officers on board. The accident took place in Calixto, Norte de Santander, an area dominated by guerrilla fighters who had engaged in combat with ground forces in the area.

Three helicopters were sent to Calixto to provide air support but were called back after heavy rains made air support too dangerous. Police coordinators in the city of Cucuta lost contact with the crashed helicopter at that point. Officials were unable to say whether the helicopter crashed because it had been shot down or because of the weather conditions.

“This is a very sad day for the National Police,” officials said in a statement. “In our hearts, we are with the families.”



Las Vegas Orders New Helicopter for SAR Ops

Las Vegas Orders

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department was given the approval to buy a new Airbus H145 last month, with delivery targeted for March 2017. The new helicopter will operate in a search and rescue role and replace one of its two HH-1H helicopters. This will be the first twin-engine helicopter operated by the police department. The unit’s current fleet consists of four MD 530Fsand one Bell 407, alongside the two Hueys. The Air Support Unit operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and flies 6,000 hours annually.

Department Chief Finance Officer Rich Hoggan told local news outlets that the price of $9.6 million, including spares and training, is being partially offset by $1.6 million from the sale of an existing aircraft, and $2 million from a lawsuit settlement. Hoggan is also leading an initiative to seek an increase in fees at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and Lake Mead National Recreation Area to help support the helicopter SAR operations. “We operate in a unique environment,” Hoggan said. “Not just any helicopter will work for us here.” The department said it averages 160 rescues each year.



Michigan State Police Encounter Two Laser Strikes in Two DaysMichigan State Police

Two Michigan men are facing federal charges for shining lasers at Michigan State Police (MSP) helicopters. The first incident occurred on March 16 over Detroit; the second happened two days later over Saginaw.

On March 16, a man aimed his laser device at a MSP helicopter, causing a dangerous situation for the crew of Trooper Two. The man was turned over to the FBI and is awaiting arraignment. He is charged with a Federal Aviation Administration violation.

MSP Lieutenant David Kaiser said another helicopter was flying over Saginaw on March 18 when the flight crew went to assist on a traffic stop. The crew reported seeing a flash on the ground before the beam found its way to the helicopter's cockpit. The flight crew located where it was coming from and provided information to police on the ground.

Kaiser said they found a man who told them he bought the laser because he thought it was cool. He also said he did not know it was a police helicopter he was aiming at. The man was arrested and charged with aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft, a federal felony. Michigan has no state law addressing the issue.



Police Say Man Purposely Flew UAS Near N.C. Helicopter

Police Say Man

A North Carolina man was arrested in late March for flying an unmanned aircraft system near a police helicopter. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said its pilot had to abruptly alter his path to avoid a midair collision with the UAS. Police arrested a 26-year-old on charges including interference with manned aircraft by UAS. He was freed on bail.

The helicopter crew was helping search for a wanted suspect at the time of the incident. The UAS operator told police he was using the aircraft to take video footage of the police helicopter as it worked the call. The Federal Aviation Administration prohibits UAS from being flown at night.


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Deceased STAR Flight Medic Likely Not Strapped in Properly

Deceased STAR Flight

STAR Flight medic Kristin McLain, who died last year after falling from a helicopter hoist, likely fell because she wasn’t properly secured, according to a recent investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board issued a probable cause report in late March but didn’t call the findings 100 percent certain. “In the absence of any equipment failure, it is likely that the rescuer was not properly fastened to the hoist,” the report said.

McLain, 46, had been attempting to assist a woman who had suffered a broken ankle. According to fellow crewmembers, she was about 100 feet in the air when she became detached from the hoist and fell. The injured hiker was still attached to the hoist, and the crew was able to take her to a nearby landing zone.



ALEA Hosts Online Group Meetings; SMS Educational WebinarALEA Online Meeting

ALEA will be hosting online meetings for those involved in, or interested in, aviation maintenance or UAS operations this month. The first UAS meeting will be Monday, April 11, from 1:00-2:00 pm EDT. The first maintenance online meeting will be on Wednesday, April 20, from 1:00-2:00 pm EDT.

This will be an opportunity for ALEA members to get together and discuss issues they are working with, lessons learned, news, and share ideas. The Safety Officer online group has proven to be very useful for those involved. We are looking forward to extending this concept to our maintenance and UAS professionals. Please send an email to if you are interested in participating in any of these groups.

On April 21, ALEA will host its safety webinar at 1:00 pm EDT that will cover the third and fourth steps needed to install your Safety Management System. Registration information can be found at under the events section. If you missed the first two webinars, they are available on the website as well, under Resources>ALEA Online Course Presentations.


New Scotland Police Helicopter to Get Black Box

New Scotland Police

A new Police Scotland helicopter will be fitted with a black box recorder in the wake of Air Accidents Investigations Branch (AAIB) recommendations based on the Clutha crash in Glasgow on Nov. 29, 2013. The crash into a local pub claimed 10 lives.

In addition to the standard equipment, the new aircraft will have a cockpit voice and flight data recorder, known as a black box recorder. The aircraft involved in the 2013 incident had no such device. The AAIB report into the tragedy recommended equipment to record data, audio and images be made compulsory for police aircraft. Further safety features in the new aircraft include a recording system to video helicopter flight systems and instruments within the cockpit, helicopter terrain awareness and warning system, and an emergency locator transmitter. Bond Air Services will provide the Airbus EC135 T3 helicopter to replace the current EC135 T2 model after winning a seven-year air support contract.



ALEA Now Accepting 2016 Award Nominations & Scholarship Applications 

ALEA Now AcceptimgFor over 40 years, the Airborne Law Enforcement Association has encouraged the highest standards of professionalism in public safety aviation by acknowledging outstanding performance within our specialized industry. We recognize excellence by our members, their children and others whose actions have had a positive impact on our profession through awards, scholarships and citations.

ALEA is now accepting award nominations and scholarship applications for 2016. The submission deadline is May 1. Scholarship recipients and award winners will be announced during ALEA EXPO 2016 in Savannah, GA. The scholarships will be presented during the General Membership Meeting July 21, and the awards will be presented during the Awards Reception on July 22. For full details and to submit nominations and applications, visit


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Man Jailed for Dallas Police Laser StrikeMan Jailed for Dallas

A 22-year-old man was arrested in mid-March for shining a laser at Dallas (TX) Police Department’s Air One helicopter. Senior Corporal Lucas Turano said he could see the laser coming straight at him, and “it filled the entire cockpit”.

Turano and fellow crew were hovering over a burglary call when the incident occurred. They were able to determine the source of the laser more than half a mile away and guided ground forces to the suspects. Officers arrested a man who admitted to briefly shining his green laser but said he didn't mean any harm." The last time a person was arrested for targeting Dallas’s Air One was in January 2013.



ALEA Leaders Weigh in on Surplus Program Changes

ALEA Leaders Weigh In

With the decade-old U.S. Department of Defense 1033 military surplus program recently coming under fire, several ALEA executives spoke to the media about the effects of the program. According to ALEA executives, U.S. police departments predominantly receive military versions of the Bell 206 through the program. So President Obama’s Executive Order 13688, which established a working group “to identify interagency actions that can improve federal support for the acquisition of controlled equipment by law enforcement agencies,” likely won’t inhibit departments’ ability to obtain such helicopters.

“Our view is that the aircraft that are being released to us are what’s called ‘controlled equipment,’ with required training,” ALEA Executive Director/CEO Dan Schwarzbach said. “So if you sift through the verbiage, the result is that we haven’t really seen any tangible operational changes. The changes really apply to other militarized, non-aircraft gear.”

Captain Don Roby, president of the Public Safety Aviation Accreditation Commission, agreed. “There’s less there than meets the eye for us,” he said. “13688 mostly cracked down on armored personnel carriers and weapons … and we expected that to happen after Ferguson and Baltimore.”



Did You Know

Did you know that your ALEA Board of Directors and staff meet once approximately every three years to develop a business plan and set the direction of the Association? The next Strategic Planning Meeting (SPM) is scheduled for later this month, April 22-23, in Frederick, MD. If you would like to have a say in the future of ALEA, please send your thoughts and ideas to Executive Director & CEO Dan Schwarzbach at dschwarzbach@alea.orgor to any member of the board or staff. Your input if important; make your voice heard.


San Diego Sheriff Considering UAS DeploymentSan Diego Sheriff

The San Diego County (CA) Sheriff’s Department is the latest California agency to consider purchasing unmanned aircraft systems to support ground troops. Lieutenant Jason Vickery said the department is in the early stages of consideration. If the agency decides to launch the program, it will be used throughout its coverage area for locating missing people, aiding SWAT teams and assessing wildfires.

To the privacy advocates that have argued UAS could enable police to invade private space, Vickery said the UAS wouldn’t be deployed for mass surveillance. Instead, he said they would be used to save lives by inspecting suspicious packages or helping SWAT teams decide how to proceed if armed suspects barricade themselves in a home.



BMS Downlink Systems


Orange County Sheriff Adds H125Oragne County Sheriff

The Orange County (CA) Sheriff’s Department has received an Airbus Helicopters H125 AStar helicopter as an upgrade to its existing law enforcement helicopter fleet. The aircraft, contracted for during HELI-EXPO 2016 in Louisville, KY, is expected to be in service this summer.

Orange County currently operates a pair of earlier model AS350 B2 AStars, one of which will be replaced by the new H125 (formerly AS350 B3e). Orange County uses its AStars for a variety of law enforcement and public service missions, including patrol flights, search and rescue, long line personnel insertions for drug eradication and airborne SWAT team sniper operations.

The H125, produced at Airbus’ plant in Columbus, MS, is the most popular single-engine helicopter among U.S. law enforcement agencies. Four other California law enforcement agencies have recently taken delivery of new H125s. Two each were delivered to the California Highway Patrol and Riverside County Sheriff’s Office, and one each went to the Los Angeles Police Department and Ontario Police Department.

SOURCE: Airbus Helicopters


Finnish Border Guard Receives New H215Finnish Border Guard

Finland's Border Guard recently received the first of two H215 heavy-lift utility aircraft in late March. The helicopter arrived in Finland following a training session at the Airbus Helicopters headquarters in Marignane, France. The second aircraft is scheduled for delivery in late spring.

"Finland is the eighth largest country in the European Union but the most sparsely populated, with large sea areas and forest terrains and, due to the northern location, very challenging weather conditions for [search and rescue] operations," Finnish Border Guard Colonel Antti Pesari said. "The H215's avionics and autopilot, combined with its capability to provide excellent performance in day or night operations, are the reason why we are excited to have it join our fleet."

The H215 was previously known as the Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma. It has a cruise speed of about 153 mph, a range of 529 miles and a service ceiling of nearly 17,000 feet. The Finnish Border Guard operates three AS332 aircraft and has a maintenance, repair and overhaul contract to retrofit them to the new H215 multi-role configuration.



Small Alabama Department Adds UASSmall Alabama

The Selma (AL) Police Department purchased four DJI Phantom unmanned aircraft systems last year and is now putting them into use. The department recently obtained UAS insurance, registered the aircraft and launched them in early March. The Selma Police Department is reportedly the second unit in Alabama to use unmanned aircraft; the Gadsden Police Department was the first.

Police Chief John Brock said the aircraft would be used primarily for traffic and crowd control during large events. "It will give us a bigger range of security," he said. "If we've got a bunch of officers on this corner and something happens on that corner, we can fly over there to find out what's going on."



Enter Air Beat Magazine’s Photo Contest; Win iPad with SMS!Enter Air Beat

Enter your best photos in Air Beat magazine’s 2016 Photo Contest to win an iPad Air2 and a one-year ARGUS Prism Professional SMS subscription. The iPad Air2 includes 64 GB of memory and the PRISM SMS subscription will be accessible to not only the contest winner, but also the winner’s entire unit from any mobile device or computer. All unit personnel will have access to the PRISM SMS website to help implement and sustain their SMS, as well as easy-to-use FRATs, GRATS and hazard reporting tools. 

To satisfy the contest requirements, the photographer must be an ALEA member in good standing, and the photos must have a public safety aviation element (aircraft, crew, mission, training, etc.) and include a caption. The contest ends June 15, and entries are being accepted at The more photos you submit, the greater your chances of winning. This grand prize benefits the winner’s entire organization and will significantly enhance safety.

The iPad Air2 and Argus subscription will be awarded on July 21 durimg the  General Membership Meeting at ALEA Expo 2016 in Savannah, GA.  The winner is not required to be present.


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Connecticut UAS Bill Too Broad, Police SayConnecticut UAS

During an early March hearing in which legislatures debated a bill before the Connecticut General Assembly concerning the use of unmanned aircraft systems, Farmington Police Chief Paul Melanson said an exception should be carved out for law enforcement. The bill is aimed at making it illegal to use a UAS to control a weapon, but it also would limit the use of the aircraft by state agencies. Melanson and other officers said police shouldn’t be restricted.

“I think it’s important not to limit law enforcement or public safety’s ability to protect the public,” Berlin Police Chief Paul Fitzgerald testified at the hearing. “You don’t want to get into an arms race, I understand that, but we have to be prepared to handle unforeseen situations…at a public event, a crime or a terrorist incident.”




Irishman Arrested for Shining Laser at PoliceIrishman Arrested

A 23-year-old man was arrested for endangering an aircraft after a laser was shone at a Police Service of Northern Ireland helicopter. The aircraft was supporting local ground forces when the incident took place. The man was released on bail but required to appear at a local police station for an interview at a later date. In early March, police brass had urged the government to do more to crack down on laser pen attacks against aircraft. Nearly 9,000 laser incidents occurring in Ireland were reported to the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority between 2009 and June 2015.






 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Aviation Unit Celebrates 45 Years of ServiceCMPD 45 Years

On Thursday, February 25, 2016, the CMPD Aviation Unit held a celebration in recognition of 45 years of service.   The Aviation Unit stood up on February 25, 1971, when it took delivery of a brand new Bell 47G5 helicopter. In 1976, the unit acquired a new Bell 206B JetRanger to replace the Bell 47. In 1997, the JetRanger was replaced with a Bell 407. CMPD now operates two Bell 407 helicopters. Local operators were invited and many of them flew their aircraft to the event including NC State Highway Patrol, Air Methods-Med Center Air and WBTV News’s Channel 3. The unit flew 991 hours in 2015, responded to over 2200 calls for service, assisted in 240 arrests, was directly responsible for 118 arrests, and had 150 locates which included vehicles, persons, drugs, aircraft and fires.


FAA Releases Figures On UAS Registration; Encounters Up

FAA Releases Figures

The Federal Aviation Administration announced in late March that 406,000 people have signed up for the mandatory UAS registry since it launched in December. The administration said at least 33 state transportation departments now use aerial surveillance technology to improve safety, reduce traffic congestion and save money, and the need for UAS operators to use caution when operating around airplanes and helicopters is increasing. FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta has vowed to "take action against anyone who operates irresponsibly to the full extent of the law". UAS operators who violate the rules may face stiff fines and criminal charges, including possible jail time.

The FAA also released an updated list of pilot, air traffic controller and citizen reports of possible encounters with UASs. The latest report covers August 22, 2015 through January 31, 2016, with almost 100 encounters each month. Safely integrating unmanned aircraft into the national airspace system is one of the FAA's top priorities, and the agency wants to send a clear message that operating drones around airplanes and helicopters is dangerous and illegal.

For current information on where unmanned aircraft can be flown safely, the FAA offers the B4UFLY app that can be downloaded from iTunes and Google Play. View additional information, including the latest and previous UAS sighting reports, at




2015 12 8 NVIO


ALEA Welcomes New Members

ALEA would like to welcome the following corporate and individual members who joined during March 2016:


Corporate Members

Aeroweld, Inc.

APG Avionics
LRAD Corporation
Martin Aircraft Company Limited
Momentum Aerospace Group (MAG)
Obvious Engineering LLC
Secure Technology
Southwest Fuel Systems
Toll Helicopters


ALEA wings high res

Individual Members 

Christopher Adamson, Pierce County (WA) Sheriff's Department
Rafael Borroto, Miami (FL) Police Department
Jorge Castro, Miami (FL) Police Department
Jayson Caton, Washington State Patrol Aviation Unit
Daniel Champine, Albuquerque (NM) Police Department
Bryan Conley, Independent Member
George Corwine, Alachua County (FL) Sheriff's Office Aviation Unit
Heidi Dinkler, Kern County (CA) Fire Department
Alexius Dyer, Cowen Aviation Finanace
Danny Fuhr, Utah Highway Patrol
Sean Gilland, U.S. Army
Jon Gordon, Wilmington (NC) Police Dept
Michael Grier, Cherokee (GA) Sheriff's Office
Michael Grimler, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Chris Hill, Placer County (CA) Sheriff's Office
Donald Hughes, Pennsylvania State Police Aviation Patrol Unit 1, Reading
Bret Hutchings, Utah Highway Patrol
James Lucas, Niagara County (NY) Sheriff's Office
Alejandro Macias, City of Miami (FL) Police Department
Andrew Melamed, Independent Member
Daniel Mogro, City of Miami (FL) Police Department
Thomas Mosman, NCIS
Matt O'Hara, Washington County (MN) Sheriff's Office
Mike Peck, Lake Arthur (FL) Police Department
Garrett Pene, Burlingame (CA) Police Department
Luigi Picollo, Helitactica
Daniel Praytor, Pell City/St. Clair County (AL) Sheriff's Office Air Support Unit
COL. Vinnie Pugliese, Department of Defense/USSOCOM
Scott Seaman, Los Gatos-Monte Sereno (CA) Police Department (Ret)
John Sweeney, NYC DEP Police
Will Wynn, Pell City/St. Clair County (AL) Sheriff's Office Air Support Unit


Northeast Region Safety Seminar Heads to New YorkNortheast Region Safety

The 2016 Northeast Region Safety Seminar will be held from April 26-28 in Albany, NY. Online registration is open at Hosted by the New York State Police Aviation Unit, the seminar is offered free of charge for all active ALEA members and will cover a range of topics through training classes and roundtable discussions. The event will be held at the Radisson Hotel Albany.

Reservations are available at the host hotel now. The group discount rate expires April 12, so register today to make the deadline for the discount.

In addition to its full program of educational events, the 2016 Northeast Region Safety Seminar will feature the latest aviation products and technology in a mini-tradeshow. Contact Region Director Dave McVey at for more information.


Register Today For ALEA’s Exceptional Weeklong Conference And Exposition! Register Today for ALEA

ALEA EXPO 2016 sets the standard for excellence in the public safety aviation. Exhibitors will showcase their products and services to the aviation unit decision-makers and end-users, while creating an exceptional learning environment in one central location. Take part in the latest education and training by attending our diverse Conference Courses and Classes, and see the latest technology in our 200-booth exposition. Network with your peers at the vendor-sponsored special events and enjoy the charming city of Savannah.

Advance registration is open through July 10, 2016. If mailing your registration, to receive the advance rate, ALEA must receive the registration form postmarked no later than July 10, 2016, and payment MUST accompany the registration form. After July 10, 2016, all registrations must be handled onsite and will be charged the onsite registration rate. Visit to register now.


Get Your Organization's News Online

Send your press releases, company logos and photos to:

Lisa Wright
Editorial Director

Join Our Mailing List

ALEA's Monthly E-Newsletters are designed to help keep you informed on the very latest information in the airborne law enforcement industry. Our E-Newsletters are distributed by email, as an additional benefit to our membership. To join our mailing list, you must be a member. If you are not a member of ALEA, sign up today!

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For rates and availability, contact:

Benay Osborne
Corporate Member Services/Operations Manager
(301) 631-2406 office
(301) 631-2466 fax


ALEA E-Newsletter Staff  
Dan Schwarzbach, Editor
Lisa Wright, Editorial Director
ALEA, Publisher
Benay Osborne, Ad Sales

This newsletter is published monthly by the Airborne Law Enforcement Association (ALEA), a public benefit, non-profit California corporation. The ALEA is comprised of air crew and air support personnel in law enforcement and others who support, promote, and advance the safe and effective use of aircraft by law enforcement agencies.

© Copyright 2016 by the Airborne Law Enforcement Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction of this newsletter in whole or in part without written permission from the Editor is prohibited. Product and corporate names mentioned in this newsletter are the trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the Airborne Law Enforcement Association (ALEA), its Board of Directors, staff or membership; nor shall their publication imply endorsement on the part of ALEA of any content or claims made therein. ALEA disclaims all warranties, express or implied, and makes no judgment regarding the accuracy of posted information. In no event will ALEA be liable to any party for any direct, indirect, special or consequential damages resulting from the publication or any subsequent public distribution thereof.

Airborne Law Enforcement Association, Inc.
50 Carroll Creek Way
Suite 260
Frederick, MD 21701
Phone (301) 631-2406
Fax (301) 631-2466



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