Baywatch Wannabe? Suspect Steals Lifeguard Pickup Truck at Dockweiler Beach

A 39-year-old man was in custody Saturday on suspicion of stealing a Los Angeles County Fire Department lifeguard pickup truck at Dockweiler Beach.

The theft occurred between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Authorities recovered the red 2015 Toyota Tacoma Friday and arrested Jared Gowens on suspicion of felony grand theft auto, police said.

A motive for the theft of the local law enforcement vehicle was not immediately disclosed.

He was arrested Friday.


Credit: City News Service

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LAFD Deploys Drones for First Time to Survey Damage, Patrol Hotspots in Skirball Fire

The Los Angeles Fire Department deployed its drones for the first time to survey the Skirball Fire near Bel-Air on Dec. 7, 2017.

Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas announced the move in a Thursday morning press conference, and by late afternoon two drones had conducted reconnaissance at the north end of Moraga Drive for about 30 minutes in their first official voyage, the department said.

The drones allow the department to get a birds-eye view of property damage in the fire’s aftermath and allocate resources to smoldering areas threatening to flare up, according to Terrazas. “We are very, very proud of that new technology,” he said Thursday.

The department purchased eight drones through its foundation but hadn’t used the equipment before because the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified the program only two days ago, Terrazas told radio station KPCC in an interview Thursday.

One of the drones was used to get visuals of property damage while the other located hotspots, allowing firefighters or a water drop to be dispatched to the exact location where they were needed, he told the station.

The Skirball Fire was holding at 475 acres and 30 percent containment Friday afternoon and residents had begun returning to their homes, though firefighters stressed they were still monitoring hotspots that could flare up under a red flag warning in place through Sunday.

Terrazas expects the department will find additional applications for the aerial vehicles once the program moves forward.

The eight drones cost about $50,000 altogether but will replace the more expensive alternative of renting an infrared camera and flying it in a helicopter, he told KPCC.

The agency began the process of gaining FAA approval in June amid outcry from those concerned about citizen privacy, the Los Angeles Times previously reported.

All firefighters hoping to conduct the drones will need a pilot’s license, Terrazas told KPCC, but 70 firefighters have already obtained the certification.


Credit: KTLA, LAFD

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Russia Offers to Help Fight Wildfires by Stationing Aircraft in Santa Maria

As wildfires sweep across the state of California, Russian Federation officials have offered their aid in the form of amphibious, firefighting airplanes called Be-200s, which could be mobilized in 72 hours, according to a Santa Maria airport official. 

If an agreement is finalized, Russia’s Beriev Be-200s would be utilized in the firefights and would be stationed at the Santa Maria Public Airport, said David Baskett, president of Santa Maria-based International Emergency Services.

“Russia and the U.S. have a handshake agreement on sending the Be-200s here to help on the fires,” Baskett said Friday afternoon.

Specifically, officials from the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Affairs for Civil Defense, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters (EMERCOM) and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are involved in the discussions about Russia’s offer of aid, he said.

In an email to Baskett Friday night, however, a FEMA representative said the federal agency has received no offer of assistance from EMERCOM.

“I have received numerous emails forwarded to me where you have contacted Cal Fire officials claiming that FEMA has accepted offers of assistance from EMERCOM,” J.P. Henderson, regional counsel FEMA Region IX, wrote in an email to Baskett. 

“I have verified with our HQ International Affairs office that these claims are false. No offer has been made to FEMA,” Henderson wrote.

Baskett, who is also a Santa Maria Public Airport District director, said he stands by his information. He said he started receiving phone calls about the offer at about 4 a.m. Friday and spent most of the morning working with Russian and U.S. emergency management officials, as well as Cal Fire, on the details of the offer. 

The Russian Federation’s Minister of Trade and Industry Denis Manturov also sent a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown to offer his government’s assistance.

“We in Russia are worrying about (the) situation with the extensive forest fires occurring in California,” Manturov said in his letter to Brown, which was shared with the Santa Maria Times.

No word has been released on Brown’s response.

The Be-200 is a water-scooping, firefighting aircraft that has a wingspan of 108 feet, a flight range of 2,051 miles, a top speed of 435 mph and weighs more than 60,000 pounds.

It can drop 3,170 gallons of water on a blaze in just a few seconds. 

The aircraft, which has been used to fight fires all over the world, is also equipped with tanks to drop fire-retardant chemicals or a mix of water and the chemicals.

The Be-200 is able to quickly fill its water tanks by flying along the surface of a body of water and can utilize both fresh and ocean water to fight fires. 

If Russia’s offer of assistance is approved, leaders at the Santa Maria Public Airport will be ready. 

“The Santa Maria Airport is fully operational and able to accept anything the Forest Service or Cal Fire wants to bring in, as long as the aircraft meets the category of aircraft we are designed for,” said Chris Hastert, Santa Maria Public Airport general manager. “The Be-200 definitely falls within our design category.”

He added the only aircraft the airport can’t handle are 747s, because they are too big for the airport’s taxiways.

“We have space and we have a hotel,” Baskett said, referring to the Santa Maria Radisson. “We are blocking rooms right now. We will be prepared.”

If approved, the Russian firefighting aircraft and their crews could arrive early next week.

The Be-200s have been to Santa Maria before as part of Baskett’s effort to bring the amphibious aircraft’s production to Santa Maria.

Baskett has been working on the effort for about a decade, and if all goes according to plan, International Emergency Services and its partners could bring 500 jobs to the city with its production and maintenance operations at the Santa Maria Public Airport. 


Credit: Santa Maria Times (http://santamariatimes.com)

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UCLA Partners with LA-RICS on Ambulance for Stroke Victims

UCLA partnered with Los Angeles County and Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA-RICS) to launch a program that delivers time-sensitive treatment to stroke victims.

As part of the first phase of a pilot program, the specialized ambulance unit and highly trained personnel began responding in September to select 911 calls in Santa Monica in coordination with the Santa Monica Fire Department.

With support from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the unit’s range will soon expand to other parts of Los Angeles County, possibly including Compton, Carson, Long Beach and Westwood. Ultimately, program organizers hope, the unit will operate in other areas of the county and may be the first of a fleet of four to nine units serving the entire county.

A mobile stroke unit is a unique type of ambulance equipped with a mobile CT scanner, which allows doctors to diagnose and treat strokes in the field with appropriate medications. Within the unit are a mobile blood-testing laboratory, as well as a neurologist, critical care nurse, CT technologist and paramedic. Patient data is collected and secure medical information is sent over the wireless LA-RICS public-safety broadband network to a stroke neurologist at UCLA Medical Center for diagnoses and subsequent treatment.

In the initial phase of the pilot program, a neurologist specializing in stroke treatment will be riding in the unit. As the program develops, however, a neurologist will oversee care more efficiently via a live video and voice connection from Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

The UCLA unit is the first such unit to operate in California. It will be the West Coast anchor of the first national demonstration project to gather data on the degree of improved patient outcomes and cost-effectiveness with accelerated field treatment. Positive results from the study could enable the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and other insurers to reimburse emergency medical service and hospital systems for mobile stroke clinical activities.

The design, build and clinical rollout of the unit were supported by a philanthropic donation to UCLA by the Arline and Henry Gluck Foundation. “Helping make this mobile stroke unit possible for the people of Los Angeles, and to support the research into this type of care, is such a privilege,” said business executive and philanthropist Henry Gluck, who is also chair of the UCLA Health System Board. “Through this, we can save lives today, while improving care in the future.”

This past summer, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to provide additional funding of nearly $1.5 million to enable the state-of-the-art vehicle to operate every week, instead of the original plan to operate every other week and to extend the life of the pilot program from 18 to 30 months. The additional funding also will increase the geographic reach of those served by the unit and enhance the quality of data gathered through the project.  

“Minutes matter when it comes to treating strokes,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn, who wrote the motion for funding. “With a mobile stroke unit operating in L.A. County, doctors will be able to diagnose and treat stroke patients faster than ever before — making it more likely that they not only survive but go on to live longer, healthier lives.”

The motion passed by the Board of Supervisors specifically directs funding to expand the stroke unit program. The funding will come from Measure B, a county parcel tax dedicated to supporting emergency and trauma services.

“Santa Monica is proud to be a partner in bringing this life-saving resource directly to our residents and neighbors when minutes count,” Santa Monica Mayor Ted Winterer said. “The Santa Monica Fire Department has embraced this partnership from the beginning and we’re thrilled to see the mobile stroke unit launch.”


Credit: Mission Critical Communications (via Khalil Ladjevardi, SCMA Member), and UCLA Newsroom

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Hermosa Beach Fire Department to be Disbanded

The Hermosa Beach Fire Department will be disbanded on Saturday, December 30, 2017, at 8 am. Firefighters from the Los Angeles County Fire Department will start protecting Hermosa Beach at that time.

Hermosa Beach will be the 59th city which is contracting with the county fire department for firefighting protection and paramedic level emergency medical protection.

The current Hermosa Beach fire station will be re-designated county fire station #100. Station 100 will have 2 vehicles. Squad 100, a county paramedic squad truck will have 2 firefighter paramedics. Engine 100, a county paramedic assessment fire engine will have 3 firefighters — a firefighter paramedic, a captain, and an engineer. The Hermosa Beach city government will contract with a private ambulance company to transport emergency medical patients to the hospital. A firefighter paramedic will ride in the ambulance with the patient if the patient needs continuing medical care on the way to the hospital.

Squad 100 will be a paramedic rescue squad truck with 2 firefighter paramedics. This truck is similar to the one which was featured in the television drama, “Emergency!”. Squad 100 will not have pumps, hoses, or ladders for fighting fires.

Engine 100 will be a paramedic assessment fire engine with 3 firefighters — a firefighter paramedic, a captain, and an engineer. The crew of Engine 100 can perform many, but not all of the functions of a 2 person paramedic team. A unit with 2 firefighter paramedics will be dispatched to medical emergencies, simultaneously with Engine 100. Engine 100’s crew can perform many of the functions of a paramedic team, while they are waiting for the other paramedic unit to arrive. Engine 100’s crew does not have enough firefighters to fight interior structure fires by themselves, although they can team up with other firefighters to fight interior structure fires.

The Hermosa Beach city government had the option of paying more money in order to have a paramedic engine based in Hermosa Beach. Los Angeles County Fire Department paramedic engines have 4 firefighters. Two of those firefighters are firefighter paramedics. The other 2 firefighters are the captain and the engineer.

If the county firefighters from the Hermosa Beach fire station are tied up for more than 30 minutes, the county fire department will send another unit to the Hermosa Beach fire station to be available for handling emergencies.

The Hermosa Beach Fire Department currently participates in some mutual aid agreements with other fire departments in the South Bay area. The county fire department will participate in those agreements.

The county fire department will hire any Hermosa Beach firefighter who has passed probation with the city fire department, who passes a county background check, and who passes a medical exam. However, some of them will work at other fire stations. The city fire chief will not go to the county fire department. The city fire chief was already retired and was only brought back on a temporary basis. It is not known if the Hermosa Beach Fire Department’s civilian employees will join the county fire department. The Hermosa Beach Firefighters Association supported the decision to merge the 2 fire departments.

The county fire department will only buy one vehicle from the Hermosa Beach Fire Department — a 2014 Pierce “Velocity” Type I fire engine — which is painted a non-typical, wine red-over-white color scheme. The county may charge the Hermosa Beach city government for the cost of buying a new paramedic squad truck to station at the Hermosa Beach fire station.

The website for the Hermosa Beach Fire Department has several documents including an unsigned copy of the merger agreement and a feasibility study by the county fire department regarding the proposed merger.

Several decades ago, the county fire department had a different fire station which was numbered “Station 100”. That fire station was in an unincorporated area, near the city of Vernon. Eventually, the city of Vernon annexed the unincorporated area, and the Vernon Fire Department used the fire station. Vernon originally called their new fire station “Station 4”, but Vernon has renumbered its fire station since then.

Los Angeles County Fire Department ocean lifeguards have already been protecting Hermosa Beach’s coast for many years. At least a few of those lifeguards are on duty 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Hermosa Beach currently has its own police department, but there has been some speculation that the fire department contract might open the door to having the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department replace the Hermosa Beach Police Department. The Los Angeles County government operates a branch library in Hermosa Beach. Most cities in Los Angeles County, including Hermosa Beach, utilize the county health department for protection.


Credit: Dominick Falzone, SCMA Member

 

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Can’t Call For Help? You Can Text 911 in Emergency

The Southland’s 911 emergency-response system entered the smart-phone era Friday, with residents across most of Los Angeles County now able to send a text message to 911 if they are unable to call for help.

The Text to 911 system is aimed primarily at hearing- or speech- impaired residents who might not be able to call 911, but it is available to anyone who might be in danger but unable to make a phone call.

“It is important that all residents are able to contact police, fire and emergency medical services when needed,” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said. “Texting is widely used to communicate, so it only makes sense that we allow residents to use this technology, Text to 911, for emergency services as well.”

Long Beach officials said people texting 911 should ensure that the phone’s location services are enabled. Text messages should be brief, and should not contain abbreviations, slang or emojis. For now, the service is only available in English, Long Beach officials said.

The first text message sent should contain the location, a short description of the emergency, and the type of help needed. The sender should be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 911 dispatcher.

“Text to 911 is an exciting technological step forward for the LAFD and the people of Los Angeles,” Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas said. “It provides the public with a new way to activate the 911 system if making a voice call is not an option and it provides a valuable service to deaf and hearing-impaired individuals.”

The LAFD noted that it has been testing the system since early October, and the agency responded to two 911 texts — one was a domestic violence assault in progress and the other was a medical emergency at a bus stop witnessed by a hearing-impaired person who sent the message for help.

Reggie Harrison, Long Beach director of disaster preparedness and emergency communications, said that despite the availability of texting, “I want to remind everyone that calling 9-1-1 remains the most effective method to access emergency personnel.”

Although the service is available across most of the county, officials with the sheriff’s department office in the Santa Clarita Valley said texting to 911 is not yet available in that area, and urged people to continue calling in the event of an emergency.


Credit: City News Service

 

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California Wildfires Show the Value of Old Tech

When cell coverage goes down, it’s all ham radios and sirens to the rescue.

Wildfires that killed nine people in a remote Northern California county last month also crippled landlines, cell phones, and internet service, the local sheriff said Thursday, saying the disaster shows old-fashioned sirens and ham radios have a place in emergencies.

Failures of modern technology can cost “all connectivity to the world,” Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said at a news conference. When lives are at stake, “we need to notify people immediately that this is a real disaster, we need to get out of here.”

Nine of the 43 people who died in the devastating Northern California wildfires that began Oct. 8 were in Mendocino County, in an area called Redwood Valley, although other valleys and areas also burned in the county at the same time.

The Los Angeles Times, citing interviews and a review of dispatch calls, reported Monday that the county appears to have waited more than an hour after fire was first reported in Redwood Valley to order evacuations there. The report said numerous residents called 911 to report that they were trapped.

Allman did not specifically address the report Thursday or whether the communications failures slowed evacuation efforts.

However, he described the hectic first hours of the wildfires, when dispatchers fielded countless emergency calls and law enforcement officers struggled to grasp the scale of fires surging around the area, as dry gusts drove embers and flames for miles.

“They’ve never taken this many calls before,” Allman said of local dispatchers. It was “the largest fire situation … in California history,” he said referring to the fires that encompassed several counties.

At the request of authorities, the area’s utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, cut power in the first hours of the fires, out of concern that sparks would ignite still more blazes, Allman said.

Cell phones and internet service failed for many and CalFire lost “a good portion of its phone lines” in Mendocino County, the sheriff said.

Instead, emergency workers drove through neighborhoods ordering residents out over bullhorns and knocking on doors.

Ham radio operators, meanwhile, volunteered for work in the disaster, helping to coordinate the transportation of victims to hospitals, he said.

Allman pledged to streamline the chain of command for ordering automated cell-phone alerts, or reverse-911 calls, to make it easier for individual law officers to order them.

The sheriff also urged authorities to reconsider civil-defense sirens, staples of the World War II-era that have fallen into disuse in recent decades. Many areas have taken down the sirens because of complaints from residents about the noise associated with testing the devices.

At a minimum, “I hope Mendocino County can take a step back and reposition air raid sirens,” Allman said.


Credit: Associated Press

 

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Orange County Project 25 Upgrade Report

The following article is from the SystemWatch Newsletter published by the Orange County Sheriff Department Communications and Technology Division.

As all of you know, we are in the midst of a major upgrade to our 800 MHz Countywide Coordinated Communications System (CCCS). This upgrade provides several key enhancements to the current system.

First and foremost, it brings us into compliance with Project 25, or “P25,” for short. This standard will allow for even greater interoperability between various agencies so we can more easily communicate, in both routine and emergency situations. We will also see the advent of Over-The-Air Programming (OTAP) and Over-The-Air Rekeying (OTAR).

Once installed and up and running, OTAP will allow us to reprogram and provide radio updates “over-the-air.” In the past we had to physically “touch” each radio one at a time. OTAR will allow for the changing of encryption keys over-the-air. As with OTAP, this process was not able to be completed in the past without the physical reprogramming of each radio in person. In the future, these new technologies will be part of the system and updates will occur in the background without inconveniencing the end users.

Last month we traveled to Elgin, Illinois to take delivery of almost $25 million worth of new radio infrastructure equipment. This process is commonly referred to as a “Staging Event” and allows us to review and test all of our remote site equipment in a “real-time, live environment” before officially taking delivery. The engineering team led by our Chief Engineer and Assistant Director, Steve Miller, consisted of Senior Telecommunications Engineers Jim Donovan and Erik Schull, and Telecommunications Engineer III, Eldwin Lajom and Andrew Pham.

We spent a full day at the Motorola Staging Facility where we put all of the systems through a battery of tests to ensure the equipment was properly configured and optimized. This day concluded with our “customer acceptance” where we officially signed off and accepted the equipment. During our physical inspection of the over 100 racks of radio equipment, we did find several issues. Most of these, Motorola was able to address before shipment and some will be addressed and resolved during the installation process back home in Orange County. This is exactly why this process of review and testing is in place prior to sign-off and acceptance.

Once accepted, our equipment was wrapped up and shipped to Orange County on three semi-trucks. This new equipment will be installed over the next year as we continue to move forward with the upgrade of the CCCS.

Our two-day trip also included a tour of the Motorola Production Facility, where many of our radios for the CCCS are assembled, tested and shipped from. We also toured the Motorola Solutions Innovation Center in downtown Chicago. This facility showcases some of the latest emerging technologies that Motorola is developing for the public safety market. It was a look into the window of the future as to where digital communications are headed. We are excited about the future and where it will take us.

Our goal is to provide our first responders, and all of our users, with the best interoperable communications system possible, so when they key the mic, they can focus on the job at hand, and not wonder if their transmissions will get through.

Will there be a change to talkaround (T/A) channels?

In preparation for the Next Generation radio system upgrade, a massive distribution and reprogramming of the new Motorola APX user radio equipment is now underway on a Countywide scale, and will occur in phases over the course of the next few months. During this time, agencies may use the new radios, however, there will be a subtle difference.

All talkaround (T/A) channels on the reprogrammed radios will only work with other reprogrammed radios. If an agency is still working on the old radios, those same talkarounds will work only on nonreprogrammed radios.

Example: If “City A” has all their new APX radios programmed, they can utilize “White-TA” and communicate amongst themselves or with other new APX programmed radios. If neighbor “City B” is still on their old XTS radios or non-reprogrammed APX radios, communicating with City A on “White-TA” will not work due to the rebanded frequency change.

What is the time frame for the cutover of the upgraded system?

This cutover is a massive undertaking that is in progress concurrently with the FCC mandated rebanding project. With the addition of the rebanding project, we foresee the P25 cutover concluding in the last quarter of 2019. Since this cutover is occurring in phases, your agency may receive equipment and/or updates sooner or later than others, and at that point, you will also be provided with further training materials to review the changes/updates.


Credit: OCSD SystemWatch Newsletter

 

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Here Come the Drones! LA City Council OK’s Fire Department’s Guidelines

Guidelines for a Los Angeles Fire Department drone program were approved by the City Council Tuesday over the objections of some civil rights organizations concerned that the devices could be used to infringe on individual liberties.

The 11-0 vote formalizes rules for the fire department’s use of drones, or unmanned aerial systems. The City Council had already cleared the way in July for the LAFD to develop the program.

According to the guidelines, drones would be used by the LAFD in “emergencies where the complexity or scope of the incident require critical decision making on the part of the incident commander and/or pose a significant risk to firefighter safety (that) could require the use of a department UAS.”

The guidelines also say drones would be used, but not be limited to, situations involving hazardous materials, confined space rescues, high/low angle rescues, swift or moving water rescues “or any other expanded or extended incident.” A process for requesting a drone is also outlined.

The guidelines note that of the nearly 470,000 calls for service the department responds to annually, about 99 percent would not necessitate the use of a drone.

Both the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Los Angeles Police Department have also been pursuing drones over the objection of civil liberties groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, which are concerned about “mission creep” and worry the devices will one day be armed with weapons or used to conduct mass surveillance.

The Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners recently approved drone- use guidelines, though the overwhelming majority of the public feedback it received on the program was opposed to it.

The sheriff’s Civilian Oversight Commission recently voted 5-4 to call for the grounding of the LASD’s drone program. But that vote is not binding on the department, and Sheriff Jim McDonnell said the agency will continue using the devices.

The LAFD guidelines address privacy concerns and state the devices would not be used to monitor members of the public or provide surveillance for law enforcement.


Credit: City News Service, Getty Images

 

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Anaheim PD Keeps an ‘Angel’ in the Air

Anaheim PD Tactical Flight Officer Jay Poland, left, and Pilot Jimmy Elliott bank to the right in an Angel police helicopter. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC By Shawn Price

Angel is watching over the city as the sun sets on a hot August day. Anaheim PD’s Air Support Bureau is cruising at 1,200 feet above it all, and below, the streets are a safer place because of it.

Tactical Flight Officer Jay Poland monitors current calls and a mapping system on a laptop-sized computer screen, while Officer/Pilot Jimmy Elliott watches the gauges and flies the helicopter, nicknamed Angel. In short, one handles the police work and the other handles the flying, but either one can help the other if the situation calls for it.

“There’s so much more happening in the cockpit than someone flying a plane from point A to B,” says Poland. 

Anaheim PD Pilot Jimmy Elliott, left, and Tactical Flight Officer Jay Poland in front of the police helicopter nicknamed Angel.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

In 2016, Air Support Bureau officers spent 2,425 hours above the city. With that much time in the air, Angel or her back-up can reach their FAA-required, every-100-hour maintenance check ups about every three weeks.

While no one will argue that an air support unit is cheap, all that time in the air does create an impact as significant as when police departments first switched from the horse and carriage to automobiles in the early 20th Century. The amount of man hours and manpower saved, as well as increased effectiveness, is easy to put into words.

“Studies say we’re equal to 20 cops,” says Sgt. Bryan Santy. “We get there first because we don’t have to fight traffic. We get people before they get away.”

Air Support was first at the scene 66 percent of the time last year and initiated 28 arrests, very much in keeping with their average. They assisted in another 626 arrests, including 45 pursuits.

Tactical Flight Officer Jay Poland stands next to one of two camera systems, owned by the Anaheim PD, installed under the police helicopter nicknamed Angel. The camera system is a high-definition camera, a low-light camera, and an HD-FLIR (forward looking infrared) camera. The million-dollar camera system is detachable and can be moved from aircraft to aircraft depending on the agency’s needs.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Officers in a helicopter generally orbit near the center of the city at approximately 75 miles per hour, allowing them to be at the scene of any call within about one minute. It’s an ability that not only helps officers, for example, spot suspects fleeing the scene of a robbery and keep an eye on them before they disappear, but can also spare other officers from having to respond to a call that ends up being nothing.

“We could have them chasing speeding cars all day, but we don’t want to overtax ground units,” Poland says. Air Support was able to cancel more than 360 calls last year. “It really matters to the guys on the ground that we can do that.”

If someone is lost in the local hills and can still talk on a phone, it’s relatively easy for Air Support to find them. If someone is trying to hide in those same hills, as was recently the case, it takes a bit more work, but FLIR thermal imaging cameras attached to the bottom of the helicopters helped locate 28 people last year. Regardless, Air Support can slash hours — even days — off the time it takes to locate, rescue or capture people.

If your car was the thing that was lost, Air Support might have helped with that, too. There were 56 LoJack-equipped vehicles located in 2016, resulting in 30 arrests.

Tactical Flight Officer Jay Poland next to the helicopter nicknamed Angel. Much like Air Force One, it is designated over the radio as “Angel” when an Anaheim PD helicopter is in the air.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Angel is a sophisticated aircraft and an upgrade from previous helicopters. She is bigger, more powerful and equipped with lighter and better equipment than previous APD aircraft.

It has a brighter spotlight, but Angel’s imaging abilities can see as far as five miles away and tell Poland or Elliott in pitch darkness if the person on the ground is male or female and if they’re lying on their right or left side. The loudspeaker can now clearly be understood over the sound of the engine from 1,500 feet below, telling a suspect to surrender before a police K9 is sent in.

Then there’s the human element. Despite the cutting-edge tech, both Elliott and Poland know the city so well, they can often spot with their own eyes if something is wrong.

“We all start out as cops,” Poland says of the extensive training required to sit in Angel’s front seats. “You can teach a cop to be a pilot, but it’s a lot harder to teach a pilot to be a cop.”

Jimmy Elliott of Anaheim PD sits on the right as he pilots the helicopter.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Trainees will spend six months in observation before they even get a chance to actually do any test flights.

Back on the ground at the Air Support Facility in Fullerton, the two officers refuel Angel from an underground tank and head back into their building for some paperwork. Each half of their job has its own rewards. They love being in the air, but the office is quiet and the camaraderie is strong.

“It’s a neat environment,” Poland says. “But you go home tired and satisfied. What a great job this is.”

 

Anaheim PD Tactical Flight Officer Jay Poland, left, and Pilot Jimmy Elliott in the police helicopter nicknamed Angel.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Credit: Behind the Badge OC

 

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