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Edmonton Police Service praise helicopters

Sept. 21, 2011, Edmonton - Celebrating a decade of tracking scum from the sky, the Edmonton Police Service showed off their choppers to citizens Saturday.


September 21, 2011
By The Edmonton Sun

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Edmonton Police Service Chief Rod Knecht said the purchase of Air-1 helicopters for their flight operations unit in August 2001 was the “quintessential example of community policing at it’s finest.”

“Quite simply, it is a very powerful force multiplier,” said Knecht. “And will be a powerful tool as we move forward with our violence reduction strategy into the future.”

Dozens of Edmonton families crowded behind Vallevand Kennels to get a peek inside the helicopters and learn more about how EPS patrols the sky.

Edmontonians Travis and Sherlynn Cruise said Air-1 is a very valuable tool for police and they were glad their three children, Noah, 4, Evelyn, 2, and nine-month-old Eloise had the chance to see police choppers first hand.

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“When they see the helicopter in the sky they’ll have a better understanding of what the helicopters are doing,” Sherlynn said. “And who’s actually flying them so I think that’s beneficial for them.”

Air-1 helicopters are equipped with a forward looking infrared radiometer or FLIR camera that can detect minute temperature differences between surface objects from kilometres away.

Monitoring the camera from Air-1, tactical flight officer Trevor Bohachyk said from 1,000 feet in the air he can determine what a suspect is wearing, right down to whether or not they have shoes on.

“That’s our bread and butter,” said Bohachyk. “It’s our go-to.”

Officers can also use the NightSun — a 30 million candle power spotlight for finding suspects in the dark. They assist patrol members in making arrests, manage vehicle pursuits as well as monitor erratic and dangerous drivers.

Since 2001, Air-1 has intervened in 451 criminal flights and responds to over 2,500 calls annually. In 2010 alone, Air-1 was directly responsible for the arrests of 297 suspects. With an average response time of 75 seconds, they’re on the scene first 50% of the time.

Always credit to go around

While tracking criminals from above is key, Air-1 police officers are quick to split credit with their canine counterparts on the ground.

Tactical flight officer Trevor Bohachyk said the Edmonton Police Service’s flight operations unit has a very close working relationship with their canine partners.

“Between the camera system up here with our field of view and the dogs’ noses and the handlers’ abilities, we have a pretty high success rate in tracking these guys down,” said Const. Bohachyk.

At the 10th anniversary celebration for EPS’ Air-1 flight operations, citizens got their chance to meet pups Silver, Red and Nikosi who will eventually grow up to be canine unit officers.

Const. Bryan Langevin from downtown division works with the canine unit as a puppy imprinter.

Raising Nikosi, a Dutch Shephard, Const. Langevin is sharpening the 12-week old pup’s instincts in tracking and obedience to make a great canine officer. He said Air-1 support is essential for a successful canine capture of a suspect.

“What Air-1 allows us to do is give us a picture of the scene before we get there with the canines,” Langevin said.


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