Law’s Eyes in the Sky
The Volusia County, Fla., Sheriff’s Office’s fleet of three helicopters is indispensable to the large and growing county, because it allows law enforcement to respond to the farthest points in the county in a matter of minutes, said sheriff’s representative Gary Davidson.
The helicopters–which come equipped with a GPS systems and a street tracker to help crews determine where they are and where they need to go–are used for several reasons: aerial surveillance, searching for suspects, narcotics investigations, medical emergencies, and fighting fires.
In addition, crews fly across the county looking for things that seem out of place, such as abandoned cars or oil streaks in lakes, said flight paramedic Larry Higgins.
So far, the use of the helicopters seems to be paying off. Last year, the helicopter assisted in 233 arrests, including the arrests of accused gang members trying to flee South Florida after a bank robbery in DeLand.
However, the copters are aging and will soon be replaced. The new helicopters, the first of which will arrive in December 2008, will be equipped with night vision and video equipment that will allow the crews on board to transmit video to a mobile command center or a law-enforcement facility.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) from the Orlando Sentinel (FL); 12/17/06; P. J1; Reed, Kristen.