Aviation Support for Law Enforcement Agencies

The Maryland Army National Guard provides extensive aviation support to local, state, and federal Law Enforcement Agents (LEA). The Counterdrug Task Force has specially equipped UH-72A helicopters to perform these important missions. The majority of our pilots have experience in law enforcement operations and attend or teach classes in the use of aircraft for airborne law enforcement applications.

Aircraft can be utilized as a platform to recon or observe suspected or ongoing illegal drug related activities in both urban and rural environments. Aircraft are equipped with enhanced day and night optics capable of recording observed activities. A Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) must be present or in direct contact with aviation personnel.

Aviation assets can be used to transport law enforcement personnel and equipment by air to remote locations or because speed or safety is operationally essential. Federal law prohibits transportation for routine administrative support, training, or in competition with civilian carriers. Aircraft provide an excellent platform for command and control to include communications enhancement for purposes of officer safety. The ability to see the area of operations from above enables the law enforcement observer an important tactical advantage when dealing with potentially dangerous situations.

UH-72 Lakota

UH-72A LakotaStory by Tech. Sgt. Betty Squatrito-Martin
National Guard Bureau Counterdrug
Public Affairs

Just as it has become common place to see people use touch screens to communicate on their phones, it will become common place to see aircrew members on the Security and Support Lakota UH-72A helicopter use touch screens to communicate during domestic operations.

According to Chief Warrant Officer 3, Kevin Mudd, the S&S Lakota UH-72A, is the first DoD Aircraft to be outfitted with a new Mission Equipment Package (MEP) that includes touch screens.

In addition to the touch screens, the S&S MEP is equipped with an electro-optical/infrared sensor (EO/IR) and laser pointer, a moving map system, video management system, two digital video recorders, two Radio RT-5000 transceivers with single control head to enable cross band communications and point to point data communications enabling video downlinks, and real time video.

This equipment enables the National Guard Counterdrug helicopter aircrews to support law enforcement with aerial observation, photographic imagery, full motion video and interagency communications.

In part, what makes the MEP so useful is the new transceiver. According to CW3 Mudd, the old aircraft [OH-58A] had some of the digital frequencies covered in the communications package but now they have the entire digital spectrum covered. Basically, aircrews can talk to anyone be it law enforcement, fellow Guardsmen, the fire department, or any other emergency responder.

In addition to talking and hearing, the new MEP has an improved ability to see. The MEP is equipped with an upgraded electro-optical/infrared sensor (EO/IR) and laser pointer and a 43 plus-million-candlepower searchlight. Unlike previous aircraft, the night sun is slaved with the EO/IR sensor.

"When we are covering an undercover agent or police officer on the ground in the UH-72 with the new system, that agent can tell me the street location, I can plug it into the system and the camera on the aircraft will actually slew to that address", said Capt. Craig Hunter, Counterdrug OIC, D.C. National Guard. "Now I basically do it manually, I take a look at a small GPS that I have, I look at the streets, and I actually have to locate it myself." Not only does the camera go to where it is told, so does the night sun.

With radios that cover the whole digital spectrum, a night sun that lights up city blocks, EO/IR sensors, moving maps and communication that is but a touch away, "There is not a better domestic operation platform in DoD," said Chief Warrant Officer 3, Kevin Mudd. "We have an airframe that can carry more people and more stuff than what we had."

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