Flying for Law Enforcement

Flyguy6

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AN aviation option I dont hear many people talk about is fying for a law enforcement agency. I have thinking about it lately. I dont mean federal. I wish I coculd but I am 36 years old and the cut off age to be a special agent is 35. So, Ihave been thining abut state patrol or police The problem is most of these departments fly helicopters and I am an airplane pilot.. Does anyone have any advise n departments that fly fixed wing or what they think about a career in law enforcement flying?
 

Workin'Stiff

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I know the Minnesota State Highway Patrol flys a limited fixed wing fleet. However, I believe, that inorder to fly for them, you need to have a minimum of 5 years "on-the-road" experience within the department.
 

Steve

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You won't find many flying fixed wing. From what I've seen, you either have to have lots of helo time to get on (i.e. former military) or be street cop for a few years and pay your dues that way. They usually then pay the bill for your training or do it inhouse.
 

FN FAL

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Flyguy6 said:
AN aviation option I dont hear many people talk about is fying for a law enforcement agency. I have thinking about it lately.
AN? You hit the nail on the head! I have given a lot of thought on how aviation could improve law enforcement.

I'm thinking they could save on response time by having numerous AN-2's circling the city, packed with cops decked out in parachute gear, NVG, web gear, mace, a TASER, a pistol and either a Colt M-4 or a 14" Remington 1187 with extra ammo.

Since law enforcement is heading in the direction of the paperless era, all their paperwork could be done on a PDA, linked to the station via secure digital data link, as well as their "real time" police helmet cam.

Put 20 of these jokers in the back of the Antonov at the begining of a shift and drop 'em out whenever there is a police call. When the plane is empty, head back to the field and load another "stick".

The police officers would be able to land at any location within a minute or two, drop their para gear and answer the call. From getting a cat out of a tree, to landing on the roof of a bank during a robbery.

Prisoner transport could be accomplished by harnessing the suspect up and inflating a special balloon attached to a tether. The Antonov would come by the exfiltration point and snag the tether, cutting off the balloon. A winch would hoist the suspect up to the aircraft, where crew members would then get them aboard the aircraft for para drop back at the police station.
 

FracCapt

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Very few departments operate fixed wing aircraft anymore. Some do, but generally they are 172's that are used for clocking people on the highways. Helos are used for most of the real support work simply due to their versatility. There used to be many departments with fixed wing aircraft for things such as VIP and prisoner transport, but most have since figured out it's much cheaper(and less headache) to charter when those services are needed.

If you want to work for law enforcement in a flying position, chances are you will need to spend several years as a groundpounder before you can even be considered. Those positions are hard to come by....I've been trying to get into a few of them for several years, to no avail.
 

PastFastMover

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I thought about flying helo's for the Fire Department once as one of their pilots was also a part time instructor at the flight school I worked at. According to him, you had to be on the Fire Department first. Second you had to have a ton of helo time, which meant at the time ex viet nam. Third, all the pilots from the department were in on the interview process and anyone of them could give you the thumbs down and you had no recourse. Looked like a great job, but very very hard to get.
 

SigAV8R

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It really depends on where you are located. The state troopers office where I used to live had a 172 that they used for speed traps, aerial surveilance, etc. I knew the trooper who flew for them and he told me if I wanted to fly for them, I had to go through the police academy, become an officer, and commit for like 2 years and they'd let me fly. It sounded like a good job if I wanted to stay where I was at. Plus they would also get you your helo license if you didn't have it...you had to be qual'd in both. So for the 2 year committment, I would have gotten a lot of 172 time and some Bell Jet Ranger time. I think each state will have different requirements, but it also might be "who you know" as with everything aviation. Just my $.02
 

indianboy7

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the california highway patrol has a pretty big fixedwing division...206's I think.....but you have to be on the street for 4 years before you can apply..I'm not sure what the max age for being a street cop with them is though....
 

AA717driver

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If you do it, don't ever compromise your integrity to make a bust. Don't ever let some ground pounder-doughnut-swilling pogue tell you to disregard evidence to get a conviction.

Don't ever forget the principles on which our forefathers risked all they had (including great wealth and VERY comfortable surroundings) to overthrow those who repeatedly violated those civil rights we and all our predecessors fought for and hold so dear.

We have come to EXPECT our Constitutionally guaranteed rights will be upheld. We take for granted that our ELECTED representatives will be stewards of those rights and watch out for those who transgress on those rights.

Don't let some power-hungry, politically-motivated prosecutor trample on those rights, for which so many of our predecessors and direct relatives have sacrificed for self-interest and short-term gain.

Have a great career in Law Enforcement.TC
 

sqwkvfr

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Workin'Stiff said:
I know the Minnesota State Highway Patrol flys a limited fixed wing fleet. However, I believe, that inorder to fly for them, you need to have a minimum of 5 years "on-the-road" experience within the department.
...and if you think getting on with a major is tough, try getting on with the Minnesota State Patrol.
 

FN FAL

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FracCapt said:
Very few departments operate fixed wing aircraft anymore. Some do, but generally they are 172's that are used for clocking people on the highways.
Wisconsin uses strictly fixed wing for clocking cars and the State Patrol pilots fly the governor around in a King Air.

Henrico County Division of Police use strictly fixed wing and even use them for patrol work, like other police departments use helicopters. Their fixed wing aircraft have spotlights rigged on them and they can illuminate a suspect by turning on a point...you don't have to believe me if don't want to, but this was relayed to me by someone who flew in the aviation division there. He also said they used the plane for tagging along on surveilance flights; following drug mules. Figure 15 years seniority on the department before you manhandle one of the high wing cessnas at Henrico County.

Jacksonville Sheriffs office has a gaggle of helicopters. Their rules were you had to have five years as a street cop, before you could even apply to the aviation division. Then you sit as a JAFO for about five years or until a vacancy occurs on the flying side of the chopper. You have to pay for your own ratings and getting hired on the department with ratings does not advanced your name up the list. However, it might look good during the initial hire interview.

From what I have heard, you have to be hireable as a police officer and be able to go through all the same hoops and training as a regular officer, to get into the police aviation units...even if they do hire right into the aircraft.
 

sqwkvfr

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Flyguy6 said:
AN aviation option I dont hear many people talk about is fying for a law enforcement agency. I have thinking about it lately. I dont mean federal. I wish I coculd but I am 36 years old and the cut off age to be a special agent is 35. So, Ihave been thining abut state patrol or police The problem is most of these departments fly helicopters and I am an airplane pilot.. Does anyone have any advise n departments that fly fixed wing or what they think about a career in law enforcement flying?
Here's some serious advice form a former cop.

Don't do it.

If you get into law enforcement just to fly, you're in it for the wrong reason. Most the of people that I worked with had a tough-to-describe dedication to their job that is rare and special. If a person came in that wasn't like that, they would be quickly frustrated and overwhelmed by the job's negatives and be out with a year or two.

Second, if you go into a department with the attitude that you're "only here to put in my time before I get to the aviation division" you're gonna be seen as condescending and conceited and it's gonna cause you problems with the road guys that think their job is pretty great. Also, if you let this attitude slip out during an interview, you won't make it past that point...they want a guy who will do whatever it takes for the good of the department --a "team player," if you will-- not somebody with the "I'm only here to fly attitude."

The above can effect your work performance and thus your evaluations...considering the competition to get onto the aviation unit --many states have ONE or TWO pilots (who, by the way, have been in that position for some time and aren't planning on going anywhere)-- having a "doesn't play well with others" on your annual would knock you out of the running.

Also, what if you get assigned to an asshole sergeant that dings you for evey little thing that happens just because he doesn't like the way you look? (don't think it doesn't happen) If he/she torpedoes your chances of getting into the aviation unit, are you prepared to spend the rest of your life in patrol, most likely not earning enough $$$ to fly more than a few hours a month in a rental?? ...and don't think that you'll just be able to "transfer" to another department with an aviation unit with the hopes of getting on there...it's NOT that easy. If the department doesn't accept lateral transfers (the vast majority don't) you'll have to go though the hiring process, academy, FTO, probation, and all of the required training again. Trust me when I say that you won't be willing to do it.

If you enter law enforcement, your chances of getting into the aviaiton unit are slim. If you you're already a pilot, I'd say they're between one in three and one in ten.

...and what happens to you if the state/city/county hits a budget crunch and the "powers that be" decide that the cops don't need those "fancy airplanes?"

If you wanna be a cop, go for it. Many departments jump at the chance to hire guys your age. If you're doing it to fly, I'd give it some serious thought before jumping in with both feet, because that's what your gonna be doing.
 
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Flyguy6

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sqwkvfr said:
Here's some serious advice form a former cop.

Don't do it.

If you get into law enforcement just to fly, you're in it for the wrong reason. Most the of people that I worked with had a tough-to-describe dedication to their job that is rare and special. If a person came in that wasn't like that, they would be quickly frustrated and overwhelmed by the job's negatives and be out with a year or two.

Thank you for that lecture, but you are speaking to the worng person. I AM a police officer now. My department only has one helicopter and a part time piolt which is why iam loking to go somewhere else. I am also in the army national guard so I understand completely what youare saying.

Most departments I have talked to want you be a road Trooper for a certain amouunt of years which Ihave no problem with cause I like being a cop. I am specifically loking at State patrols/police units. State patrols have a certain prestige. There is just something about that round hat. Plus most state patrols Ihave talked tohave fixed wing, mostly 182's and 172's and they really dont require thatmany hours. some departments just want a PPL and they wil train youto fly helicopters if you dont already have a lisence.
 

FN FAL

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Flyguy6 said:
Thank you for that lecture, but you are speaking to the worng person. I AM a police officer now. My department only has one helicopter and a part time piolt which is why iam loking to go somewhere else. I am also in the army national guard so I understand completely what youare saying.

Most departments I have talked to want you be a road Trooper for a certain amouunt of years which Ihave no problem with cause I like being a cop. I am specifically loking at State patrols/police units. State patrols have a certain prestige. There is just something about that round hat. Plus most state patrols Ihave talked tohave fixed wing, mostly 182's and 172's and they really dont require thatmany hours. some departments just want a PPL and they wil train youto fly helicopters if you dont already have a lisence.

Round hat? Just be advised, some state patrols have a requirement that your parents cannot be brother and sister.
 

msw

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law enforcement aviation

First of all, I'm not sure of the background of some of the poster's who are quick with their opinions, but I'm willing to preface this post with mine..........

I've been a cop for over 30 years, the last 7 assigned as a supervisor at a major law enforcement agency's aviation unit. I currently fly both helos and fixed wing aircraft for my agency. But before that, I spent a long time doing real police work, uniformed patrol, detective work, undercover, etc. In fact, the most enjoyable time I ever had as a cop was my years as a "ground pounder-doughnut-swilling pogue" (as AA717driver likes to call us); hardly ever violated anyone's Constitutional rights either, unlkess they were a real assh^ole who deserved it.

So, to answer your question............

State and local law enforcement agencies vary as to the requirements for their law enforcement pilots. The vast majority select their law enforcement pilots from the sworn ranks of their officers, and the selection process is highly competitive. Most cops will have anywhere from 2 to 10 years "on the street" before they get a chance to go to their agency's aviation unit. And even then, they might have to be an "Observer" (or, new politically correct term: Tactical Flight Officer) for years before getting a chance at a Pilot spot. SQWKVFR had a lot of it right, re-read his post a couple of times. Bottom line: Do not join a law enforcement agency as a sworn member ("cop") with the sole intent of getting to the aviation unit. It's a big gamble. You might join a law enforcement agency for a lot of reasons, but joining to be a pilot ain't one of them.

Now, even though the majority of law enforcement agencies hire sworn cops from within their ranks, there are some that do hire "civilian" (not cops) pilots. I believe that a good chunk of the Maryland State Police helo pilots are civilians (paired with a Trooper Observer/Paramedic); and I know that some of the Arizona DPS F/W pilots are civilians. I'm sure there are lots of others too. However, I think that a certain percentage of the "civilian" pilots hired by some of these agencies are in fact retired airborne cops from another agency, so they are not quite really "civilians" either. But there are some civilian pilot jobs out there with L.E. agencies, just not that many.

A good source of info for you would be the website for the Airborne Law Enforcement Officer's Association, which is www.alea.org Some of that website is accessible only to members (you might want to check into joining) but a good portion of it is available to all also.

Good luck.
 

navigator72

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Having a very good friend who flies Helo's for a police dept and having a girlfriend who works as a state trooper I can say I don't know a whole lot about it. So I'm going to go to the fridge and have a beer.

Happy Flying.
 

sqwkvfr

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Flyguy6 said:
I AM a police officer now.
I really wish you would have said that...you'd have saved me a lot of time. :D

Well, if nothing else you know exactly what I'm talking about.

You wanna move to Phoenix and do you have uncorrected vision of better than 20/80 OR are a successful long-term wearer of soft contacts, PHX PD has a really good aviation unit...tough competition, however, AND mostly helo ops.

AZ DPS has a some helos and fixed wings...but you'd have to put in your time in metro PHX running from deuce to deuce for while.

My former roomate (PHX PD) went through the academy w/ a couple of new-hire DPS guys. She was of the opinion that DPS is using the "fog a mirror" test for recruits...so it might not be that tought to get on with them.
 

Vne

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I thought the Feds changed the 6c retirement to 37 yrs old to get on...
I was a US Customs pilot back in the 80's and it was 35 then but I thought they made it 37 not to long ago...fun job good people should have stayed there as I am furloughed now... o well
 

satpak77

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Vne said:
I thought the Feds changed the 6c retirement to 37 yrs old to get on...
I was a US Customs pilot back in the 80's and it was 35 then but I thought they made it 37 not to long ago...fun job good people should have stayed there as I am furloughed now... o well

OPM rules now dictate that 37 is max entry age. If you started any "6c" law enforcement, that starts the FERS 25-year clock, allowing you to retire with 25 years of LE time.

I know some guys who joined Border Patrol out of college at age 22, went DEA/FBI/Customs/ATF/etc and can retire when they turn 47 with full benefits.

not a bad deal, in light of today's economic climate
 

cvtplt

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I don't know where you are a cop, but when I was in law enforcement, the department I was on wanted us to know how to spell and type. Or at least use spell check. Maybe there are less reports to write as a pilot.
 
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