- Law Enforcement Aviation Coalition, Inc.
The Law Enforcement Aviation Coalition, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c) 3 charitable organization.
The [http://www.whpd.org Winthrop Harbor Police Department] (WHPD) is the founding agency and coordinator of the [http://www.airsupport.org Law Enforcement Aviation Coalition] (LEAC), which provides no-cost air support services to law enforcement and fire service agencies throughout the region. Known by their familiar air-to-ground call sign, "Air-One", LEAC helicopters are frequently called out by local agencies who would otherwise not have airborne capabilities available.LEAC is a non-profit 501(c)3 charitable organization, staffed by volunteers who are professionals from the aviation, law enforcement and fire service sectors.
LEAC began operations in 2003 with a privately owned
Eurocopter EC 135twin-engine jet helicopter, which was made available at no cost for law enforcement operations on a limited basis. Unit missions include airborne assistance with felonies in progress, searches for fleeing or lost persons, searches for downed or missing aircraft, threats to Homeland Security, and many other types of support within the capabilities of the aircraft, equipment and crew. All mission services are provided at no-cost to the requesting agency, and it is LEAC's vision to position helicopters throughout the region so that all agencies, large and small, will have this service available 24 hours a day.
In August, 2006, LEAC received its first Department of Defense surplus helicopter, a single-engine Bell OH-58C. Assignment of this helicopter, tail number N79PD, was made possible through the Illinois Law Enforcement Support Organization (LESO). Since taking delivery of N79PD in August 2006, LEAC has invested significant funds in its refurbishment, including engine overhaul, new high-skids, new paint, new avionics, police radios, a NightSun SX16 search light, and the latest technologies in thermal imaging equipment, a FLIR-Ultra-8000. together with . N79PD is primarily based at LEAC's Police Hangar in
Kenosha, Wisconsin, and serves all of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.
A second Police Hangar has since been established in
Rockford, Illinois, where the second helicopter, tail number N92PD has just completed refurbishment and is now based. LEAC has taken delivery of an additional OH-58 helicopter, tail number N62PD, and refurbishment will begin when funds become available.
To provide no-cost, on-call air support to Law Enforcement and Fire Service agencies throughout the region, thereby increasing the safety of ground personnel and increasing the agency’s efficiency, effectiveness and mobility when responding to emergency situations.
LEAC is a non-profit organization comprised of dedicated public service volunteers who share common values with a goal of enhancing public safety and the safety of law enforcement officers and fire fighters throughout the region. Our vision is to bring together decades of aviation and law enforcement experience to provide no-cost, on-call air support to all agencies large and small. Our vision includes positioning specially equipped helicopters throughout the region, staffed by highly trained and experienced pilots and tactical flight officers, all standing at-the-ready to find lost persons, respond to felonies in progress, and protect our homeland’s security.
Board of Directors
LEAC has a diverse group of members on its board of directors, ranging from Police Chiefs, County Sheriffs, Fire Chiefs, Attorneys, City Mayors, retired FAA personnel, and business leaders. The board of directors consists of a president, secretary, treasurer, and committees for finance, operations, safety, fund raising and community relations. The board of directors meets on a monthly basis, plus regular communications are held between meetings so that decisions that could affect the safety and/or operation of the association are not delayed.
The Law Enforcement Aviation Coalition is a paramilitary organization with a rank structure combining both military aviation and law enforcement components. The ranks of Tactical Flight Officer thought Pilot In Command are based on proficiency and promotional testing; Chief Pilot, Chief Tactical Flight Officer and above are appointed by the Board of Directors.
*Unit Commander: Overseer of day to day operations and activities. Reports directly to the President of the Board of Directors.
*Director of Safety and Training: Overseer of operational safety and all Pilot and Tactical Flight Officer training.
*Director of Maintenance: Overseer of all Airframe and Power plant mechanics. Also responsible for parts inventory, regular and unscheduled maintenance, and overall airworthiness of the aircraft.
*Director of Community Relations: Overseer of Community Relations including law enforcement events and activities, public events, corporate events, and media communications.
*Chief Pilot: Overseer of all Pilots, Chief Tactical Flight Officer and Tactical Flight Officers regardless of designation.
*Pilot in Command (PIC): Pilot who has completed training and qualification for a particular aircraft. On a mission, one pilot is designated PIC, is primarily responsible for the safety of the aircraft and crew, and responsible for the actual “flying” of the aircraft. LEAC PIC are required to have a minimum number of flight hours in the given aircraft, must have attended the manufacturers ground school for the particular aircraft and maintain a FAA Level II medical status.
*Chief Tactical Flight Officer (C-TFO): Overseer of all Tactical Flight Officers regardless of training status. The C-TFO also suggests and implements training programs of other TFO’s, and when assigned to a mission crew acts as TFO.
*Tactical Flight Officer (TFO): Tactical Flight Officers act as “crew chief” on the helicopter, and are responsible for the aircraft, its safety, and the safety of those on board. While on the ground the TFO maintain a safe landing zone, keep bystanders away from aircraft, and communicate between ground crews and the PIC. While airborne, the TFO is responsible for safety of the helicopter in regards to observing for hazards including other aircraft, and depending on the position within the aircraft may be responsible for scanning instruments, radio communications, geographic location, and observation. To reach TFO status, the member must have fully completed TFO training to the satisfaction of the C-TFO, Chief Pilot, Director of Safety and Training, and Unit Commander on a particular aircraft and in all positions within that aircraft.
*Tactical Flight Officer (2): TFO (2) is the designation given to a TFO who is qualified to fly and perform TFO duties from any rear position in a particular aircraft.
*Tactical Flight Officer (3): TFO (3) is the designation given to a TFO in training and can only fly missions in rear positions, and only when teamed with a TFO or C-TFO.
*Ground Support Officer (GSO) Ground Support Officers are non flight positions. GSO's are involved in all ground aspects of the operation such as hanger duties, refueling, landing zone support, etc.
*Community Relations Volunteer (CRV) Community Relations Volunteer's are members of the public who may not qualify for an operational position, but still wish to assist the Coalition. CRV's are assigned various duties to help publize the Coalition such as helping at events, setting up and manning display booths, etc.
The Law Enforcement Aviation Coalition founded and coordinated by the Winthrop Harbor Police Department, operates aircraft titled to the Village of Winthrop Harbor (IL), the City of Byron (IL) and
Stephenson CountySheriff (IL). On occasion, additional privately owned aircraft are available for LEAC operations on an as-needed basis.
Unlike traditional Law Enforcement Aviation Units that are governed by one particular agency, the Law Enforcement Aviation Coalition is made up members from a variety of law enforcement and public safety agencies in the Northern Illinois, Western Illinois and Southern Wisconsin areas. While flying missions, the LEAC flight crews are under the command of the jurisdiction and authority of the agency requesting service or support.
Base of Operations
The Law Enforcement Aviation Coalition is coordinated by the [http://www.whpd.org Winthrop Harbor Police Department] , and all calls for service are routed through the WHPD 24/7 Dispatch Center.
The Law Enforcement Aviation Coalition currently has aircraft positions in two geographical areas. N79PD is located at the Police Aviation Hangar at
Kenosha, Wisconsinairport (KENW). N79PD provides primary support for the Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin areas.
N92PD is located at
Rockford, IllinoisAirport (KRFD), and is primarily responsible for the Western Illinois area.
A third helicopter, N62PD, is currently in the process of being renovated and updated for use and will eventually be staged in the
Stephenson County, Illinoisarea
The advantage to operating a “coalition” and having multiple aircraft allows for an aircraft grounded for maintenance or other reasons to be replaced or covered with an aircraft from the other base of operations. In this manner, LEAC has a greater opportunity to respond to calls from service in any geographic area.
The Law Enforcement Aviation Coalition flies a variety of missions, mostly responding to calls for assistance or air support from a local agency or department. Before being advised of the type of mission, the Unit Commander and/or Chief Pilot review current weather, manpower and resource availability. If it is determined that the aircraft can fly safely, the type of mission is then relayed and applied to a pre defined formula to determine whether the mission meets the criteria for a response, and the final decision is made whether to accept the mission or not. The decision process follows this manner to avoid “emotional” decisions to fly vs. the safety of the aircraft and crew which takes priority. Missions that are typically flown by LEAC include but are not limited to:
*Missing persons including children, elderly, people with disabilities and/or medical illnesses
*Disaster assistance and relief
*Searches of rural and/or residential areas
*Missing or overdue watercraft (Lake Michigan)
*SWAT support and/or deployment
*Vehicular and/or foot pursuits
*Class-X Felonies in progress
In accordance with FAA regulations for Public Use Aircraft, for missions flown in any of the three OH-58C helicopters, all crew members and/or passengers transported are ciritcal to the mission at hand.
To date, the Law Enforcement Aviation Coalition has responded to numerous calls for assistance. Some mission highlights include:
*Suicidal Subject Search - Winthrop Harbor, Illinois (N92PD)
**A search of a residential area was conducted to locate a subject with a gun that was reported as suicidal.
*Missing Persons Search – Kenosha, Wisconsin (N255MK)
**A 16 –year old female with medical and psychological problems was reported missing and was located by LEAC within 10 mins of notification.
*Missing Boat Search – Lake Michigan, Kenosha, Wisconsin (N255MK)
**An extensive search of Lake Michigan 3-5 miles off shore resulted in an overdue boat being found by LEAC. The position of the boat was relayed to the United States Coast Guard whom then completed a water rescue.
*Missing Person Search – Lake Michigan, Waukegan, Illinois (N255MK)
**Search patterns were completed just off shore from the Waukegan Beach. An underwater object was identified and divers were directed to the general location. The victim of a drowning was located shortly thereafter.
*Disaster Relief – Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, Mississippi (N255MK)
**Being one of the first law enforcement helicopters on location in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina had struck, and the only one with Night Vision capabilities, LEAC was instrumental in the evacuation of hospital patients from a make shift landing pad, and completed more than 70 residential rooftop rescues.
*Support – Hurricane Rita, Houston, Texas (N255MK)
**In light of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, LEAC was requested to Houston in support of Hurricane Rita. After the hurricane passed, LEAC missions involved checking damage on dams, hospitals and other critical locations.
Please check our web site for up to date press releases and mission information.
Aircraft and Equipment
The Law Enforcement Aviation Coalition has received three Bell OH-58C helicopters from the United States Department of Defense (DoD) through the Law Enforcement Support Office surplus program. N79PD's home airport is Kenosha Airport.
N79PD has been titled to the Winthrop Harbor Police Department (IL), and has been repainted and retrofitted with high skids and a variety of other mission equipment.
N92PD has been titled to the City of Byron (IL), and has also been repainted and retrofitted with mission equipment. N92PD's home base is Rockford Airport.
N62PD has been titled to the Stephenson County Sheriff's Office. N62PD has been sent to the paint shop and once painted, will receive an overhaul of its avionics equipment. N62PD will eventually be outfitted with the latest "state-of-the-art" communications equipment that will allow it to operate as an airborne command and control unit during the course of a natural disaster and/or multiple agancy response incident. This equipment will provide the capability of linking various radio systems into one seamless flow of communication.
There are currently no privately owned aircraft supporting LEAC's mission.
"*All aircraft, when operated for LEAC missions, regardless of ownership status, are crewed by members of the Law Enforcement Aviation Coalition, whom are all sworn law enforcement personal or employed by a public safety agency that is a member of the Law Enforcement Aviation Coalition. Privately owned aircraft are also operated within the guidelines of the Law Enforcement Aviation Coalitions operating policies and procedures."
The Law Enforcement Aviation Coalition utilizes a variety of mission equipment including police capable radios, LoJack receivers, Night Visions Goggles (AN-VIS), Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) and Night Sun search lights.
N255MK(R) was a privately owned Bell 430 helicopter. N255MK was equipped with a variety of law enforcement equipment and markings that supported its role with the LEAC fleet and flew many successful missions, with its last being support of an armed standoff in
La Crosse, Wisconsin.
N255MK(R) was a privately owned Eurocopter EC-135 helicopter. N255MK was equipped with a variety of law enforcement equipment and markings to support its role with the LEAC fleet and was instrumental in not only the inception of LEAC, but flew many successful missions as listed above.
Crew members of the Law Enforcement Aviation uniforms consist of a black or sage green nomex (fire retardant) flight suit, nomex flight gloves, black boots, and a Gentex model SPH-4B or HGU-56 helicopter flight helmet. The flight suit is adorned with a LEAC patch, Unit patch, USA Flag patch and a patch from the agency the member is employed by. Rear TFO positions are also required (dependent on mission type) to wear flight harnesses that attach to the aircraft floor. Crew members carry a sidearm in accordance with their own departments policies.
Crew and/or passengers are prohibited from carrying mace, pepper spray and/or Tazers onto any LEAC aircraft.
LEAC crew members meet and train a minimum of once a week to learn and review tactics, maintain proficiency on the aircraft and to review operating policies and procedures.
Weekly training sessions have consisted of aircraft familirization, learning new flight tactics, and implementing new equipment and/or technologies. LEAC has also conducted in-service training with other agencies such as the United States Coast Guard (USCG), Flight for Life, and various local police departments and SWAT teams.
Prior to being assigned to Pilot in Command (PIC), LEAC Pilots are required to have a minimum number of flight hours in a given aircraft, must maintain a FAA Class II medical and attend the manufacturer’s ground school. From that point, LEAC Pilots are required to pass an internal examination and proficiency test, and must then attend a minimum number of weekly training sessions to maintain flight status.
LEAC Tactical Flight Officers (TFO’s) are bought on as trainees, and then after successfully completion of the basic training program, an internal examination and proficiency test, that are promoted to the next level. This process is completed until the member reaches full TFO status, at which point they must attend a minimum number of weekly training sessions to maintain flight status.
[http://www.whpd.org Winthrop Harbor Police Department]
[http://byron.govoffice.com/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC=%7B93119050-AA6A-4824-A5EA-24365BF614E4%7D Byron Police Department]
[http://www.co.stephenson.il.us/sheriff Stephenson County Sheriff]
[http://www.airsupport.org Official Law Enforcement Aviation Coalition Webpage]
* [http://www.alea.org Airborne Law Enforcement Association (ALEA)]
* [http://www.www.bellhelicopter.textron.com Bell/Textron Helicopters]
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