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List of civilian hiring units?


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#41 McGavin

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Posted 19 January 2014 - 19:24

I have been employed as a sworn & non-sworn police pilot so I see advantages on both sides. Based on the ALEA Database, only approximately 10% of Airborne Law Enforcement Operators hire non-sworn pilots and I would bet most of that 10% hire retired LE. There is more to this than just being part of "the boys club". The sworn pilots will always have a better understanding of both seats which leads to better crew resourse management. The sworn pilots tend to stay in the unit longer and will always have a better understanding of police politics.

The non-sworn pilot is normally a better choice for smaller departments that can't invest in pilot training. It's also a must for operators who fly larger aircraft or missions that require more experienced pilots.

I do see the pendulum swinging towards hiring more non-sworn pilots, but I don't see large savings like Spike talks about. The expense for sworn pilots are in the initial flight training. The position is so competitive that some departments can require applicants have at least a private fixed-wing license and most of the training can be done by in-house CFIs for additional savings. All the other operational expenses should be no different than what it would cost a commercial operator unless the unit is poorly run.

#42 Flying Pig

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Posted 20 January 2014 - 12:07

This argument is like saying you have to be a lineman in order to be able to fly utility.  Would a lineman turned pilot have some great knowledge that would make him an asset, make him accepted into the group?  Talk the talk?  Of course.   Does it have anything to do with the mechanics of flying the helicopter?  No.  Does a utility pilot, over a short amount of time, learn A LOT about the power line industry?  Yes.  If you go back through my progression of my current mindset, you will see that I started out 100%….no, 110% that in order to be an LE pilot, you MUST have been a cop.  Now over a period of years, exposure and maturity as a professional pilot I have come to where I am now.  And that is that its the pilot you hire and what they bring to the table.  I am now in a position where I do fire fighting operations.  Guess what… .Im not a fireman.  But I know what they are talking about, I know what a head, flank, spot over and a heel are.  I know how to talk in their funny fireman language, but none of that  has anything to do with dropping going into a water source downwind and trying to lift 300 gallons of water with a tail wind and knowing why that is a REALLY bad idea.  That was never covered in any of my fire courses.   

 

Having been a sworn and non-sworn pilot myself too…. it all depends on the type of pilot you hire.   Saying that a sworn officer makes a better pilot because they understand the language, know what the guys on the ground need, etc….. It seems people have the position of pilot confused with the position of TFO.   

The pilot needs to know how to fly the helicopter.  The TFO needs to know the culture of the department and how to relate to the patrol officers.   If your agency is flying MD500's and has a SAR/Long Line/Off-site aspect to its mission, don't go hiring a career Hawaiian tour pilot.  Hire a utility pilot with 10,000hrs in 500s.  (If he will take the pay cut :D )  If your mission is strictly city patrol in a B2, then hire a pilot with loads of applicable B2 experience.  If your unit has NVGs, mountains, etc etc…. In a short amount of time, if you hire the right pilot, he will understand whats going on.  Most helicopter pilots make their living helping other industries do their job better.  So they understand the need to get in and learn the overall picture.  

Every agency has the program that works for them.   This debate will never end because there is no answer.  Each answer is agency specific.   I know a couple programs intimately from the inside that hire civilian pilots and partner them with an experienced sworn TFO.   As a cop on the ground getting support it doesn't matter.   There is no "police way" of flying a helicopter.  Although 2 departments I know of specifically say the reason they do not hire civilians is because their specific agency flies the helicopters "their way" and if you were not trained to fly that way, you cant work there.  

 

Its much better, and gains you more traction when you just say "Hey…. just like the military, you have to be part of the team to get a spot."  People understand that.  When LE pilots go off on these descriptions of how being a cop somehow makes the helicopter operate differently and therefore, you have to spend 15 years as a cop before you could even think about being able to fly my agencies Jet Ranger…… people just roll their eyes.  

 

This was pretty evident when I started going to different units, flying with them to see how they operate, watching the pilot and TFO interaction and then being dumbfounded when I find out the pilot is a civilian or find out the 2 pilot crew is sworn only because the agency hired them as pilots and sent them to the academy :o Or in another unit, the civilian was a Reserve so that while he was on duty, he could carry a gun and badge and make arrests…. but had never actually "worked the street".

 

And then you have units, like where I started, that pilots work their way into the pilot seat through the regular special assignment sworn routes.  Those are the ones (I am/was in that group) who say "No, in order to fly like us, you have to have been a street cop."   What they mean is that you are going to earn your spot and pay your dues just like I had to.

 

And thats OK too if it works.  Im just at the point now in my career where I can recognize the reasons. 


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#43 OH58A

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 12:06

If an agency hires a civilian and then sends them to the academy and they go right in to the aviation unit directly, then they won't know anything about being a cop anyway.



#44 Flying Pig

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 14:30

I think its more of an investment in the employee.  Job security should something happen to the unit. Most still need to go through an FTO or modified FTO.  And unless CA is different than other states…. your academy training is just step 1.  Sworn LE pilots still have to maintain their continuing education.  I know several pilots who were hired and then put through an academy. The big issue I see in LE aviation is that we fly in a vacuum.  Not many have actually flown outside of law enforcement so it can be hard to look at the sworn vs civilian argument objectively from either position.  

 

As a TFO, if I tell an experienced MD500 pilot to "spin me over the top of this house so I can see down in the trash can"  Is that a technique that only cops known how to do?  Again…. nothing wrong with an agency training its own pilots or requiring them to go to an academy.  My view has just evolved to "find the right pilot".  If a specific agency wants to spend a couple years and 1000+hrs making their guy that pilot…. thats up to the command staff of that agency.  Its funny how we all go to recurrence training at schools where the instructors aren't cops (ie. Western Helicopters) we do our basic ratings at local flight schools, we work side by side with companies like PJ Helicopters, coordinate rescue calls with local EMS Pilots, we move out of the way for the big 205 to come thumping through for water drop, National Guard Pave Hawks hoist our detectives into MJ grows…. I personally learned long lining from a utility pilot, mountain flying course was done by a non-LE pilot…..  But work a patrol call?  Wheeeeew…. I guess that can be tricky.  Where I came from, the TFO controls the mission.  The pilot puts the helicopter in the best position to make that happen safely.  



#45 palmfish

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Posted 22 January 2014 - 13:28

I think it really depends on the mission and the nature of the organization.

My agency doesnt have dedicated observers, so it really is a benefit for the pilot to have street experience. Protecting an undercover from an ambush, recognizing counter-surveillance, and sometimes, saving the observer when he/she loses the eye momentarily (those damn silver Camry's and Accords!) are all situations where having a streetwise pilot can save the day.

Spikes comment about small departments contracting with a private company for "turn key" air support does make a lot of sense. Retired LE as pilots and observers, streamlined logistics, and cost savings to the agency are just a few advantages over a dept trying to operate their own in house airwing.

#46 Flying Pig

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Posted 22 January 2014 - 13:51

I agree.  I am in that position currently.  I do a lot of single pilot operations.  The agency cant spare the bodies off the street to fly.  So in that case yes, the pilot does need to have solid LE experience. 

 

Ill go a step farther with the unit I came from.  It was very important for both people in the helicopter to be cops…..and have street experience.  It was daily routine to land and handle calls in remote areas.  In that case, there were many times where we landed, and now we were two experienced cops handling a domestic, a disturbance, etc out in the middle of nowhere.  In that case, the helicopter was just how we got there.  The scene now called for two deputies who had been around the block.  Its like being a paratrooper.  Once your feet hit the ground…. nobody cares how you got there.

 

But a lot of agencies who profess that the pilot must be an experienced street cop do not have an off-site mission.  I know a couple agencies who follow that mindset who actually have a policy against landing off-site except for mechanical emergencies.  In that case…. why are you flying a helicopter?  But thats a whole 'nuther discussion  :P



#47 Spike

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 12:13

Agencies that pride themselves on the “sworn” side of the conversation are simply protecting their jobs for which they vigorously fought for… I understand that and have no issue with it. However, to say one (type) of pilot is a better choice over another just-because is pure nonsense…..

 

The reality is; if you are a LE pilot, you do exactly what I do. And that is, operate the helicopter.   Furthermore, what I’ve done in the past, I’ve done in many forms and fashions meaning; different types of operations (missions) and for me, it’s all basically the same and that is, fly the helicopter safely while accomplishing the task..  Specifically, in this instance, it’s the job of the pilot to position the TFO so he can do his job. That’s it. If the pilot inserts himself into the call, he is no longer 100% pilot. He becomes 80% pilot and 20% TFO, so-to-speak and, visa-versa. This creates an unbalanced cockpit where everyone is responsible while no one is responsible all at the same time…. Death always comes from outside….

 

Cockpit Resource Management methodology exists to enhance flight safety and to reduce pilot workload.  CRM does not exist to catch John Q. Criminal. Catching John Q. is a byproduct of proper crew coordination. Proper crew coordination is accomplished by the pilot focusing 100% of his attention on flying the machine. This creates an enviornment so the TFO can trust in the fact that flight safety is not being compromised enabling  the TFO to focus 100%  of his attention on the task at hand and that is, bagging John Q… Likewise, fighting fire is about positioning the machine to drop the water. ENG is about positioning the machine so the camera operator can get the shot. Power line work is about positioning the machine so the lineman can do his work. As soon as the pilot inserts himself into the peripheral task, the risk exposure skyrockets. I call this, “willful induced distraction” and will be identified as a link in the accident chain....

 

In the end, I have no illusion that most any LE pilot could come to my agency, jump into our machine and do the job with little to-no guidance as I could with their agency, –right? To believe I’d need to start as a junior Officer and further build street experience is not only bunk, its expensive and risky…  And, I agree, if you are expected to conduct direct action landings, the-more-the-merrier (although, if you hook-em, how will forthwith come into play and if you tell me you transport the dirt-bag in the machine…… OMG….. ).

 

Again, I’m not trying to argue or disagree. It’s a fun topic and I fully understand I’m in the minority whose views tend to go against the grain….

 

Lastly, why is it when LE aviators retire, they ALWAYS pursue aviation related jobs and not LE related jobs?  


Edited by Spike, 24 January 2014 - 17:21.


#48 cryesis

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 21:27

So what's your feeling on a commercial pilot going to a police department, going through the academy then working on the street for a few years to go back to flying.......wouldn't they be a bit rusty after flying? Or even better departments that require a private and will train an officer to commercial standards.......is it really safe to have a 200hr pilot running LE missions?

#49 Flying Pig

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Posted 01 July 2014 - 08:43

Yes, it is pretty safe.  Do you hear many stories of low time LE pilots crashing?   

 

There is no such thing as a standard LE mission.  Some agencies require a high degree of pilot experience because of the missions they perform.  Others turn circles at sea level.  People always talk about how unsafe it is, yet the LE accident rate is extremely low.

 

In a perfect world, experienced pilots would decide to become cops, and after a couple years on the street would go to aviation.  But the problem is, it doesn't work like that.  You don't go to aviation because you are a pilot.  In LE Aviation you have to wait until there is an opening.  And that could take years.  And in most cases you wont start out as a pilot.  You are being selected as a flight officer first based off of your patrol experience.  Then the unit chooses future pilots from the TFOs.  So by the time you become a pilot, you are pretty well experienced in the LE mission.  You arent learning to fly AND learning the LE mission at the same time.   In the helicopter the TFO and the pilot have two distinct roles that really should not cross over much.

 

There are plenty of models used by agencies across the country.  And believe it or not, they all seem to work.  Don't confuse that with the fact that there are LE agencies who have no business having air units.   LE aviation is just like the civilian sector.  There are companies you stay away from and there are companies that set the standard.  

 

People like to point out "Is it safe to have a 200hr pilot running LE missions?"  Chances are most LE pilots will have far more than 200hrs when they are cut loose on a shift as PIC.  Heck...  At 450hrs TT I was in an MD500 long lining weed out of canyon at 5500ft.  I did an entire CAMP season with less than 600hrs.  But all of my training had been geared towards those types of missions.   The other 3 pilots in the unit all  started out like I did.   The one big thing with LE pilots is that if they do start out as low time, they tend to build time and experience quickly.  I was flying 5-7hrs a day.  1000hrs is a 1000hrs and Id rather get it in 2yrs not 10.  Its all about what you are doing in those 1000hrs.  I can name you 50 pilots who all started out as non-rated observers who are now 10,000+ hr LE pilots, most of whom have transitioned out into the civilian sector.  So does the model work?  Yes, it does.  It may not "work" for people who are on the outside looking in, but it does work.  Does an LE pilot need to be an experienced cop?  If I had to give a definitive Yes or No, I would say No.  Would it be nice if they were at least cops?  Yes.  because there is authority and protections that go along with being a sworn officer in regards to legal coverage and even death benefits that most civilian pilots are not included in.  But many agencies have pilot who come right off the street as high time pilots and hit the ground running.  Chances are, when you see an agency hiring civilian pilots or outside pilots vs training their own, its because they perform missions that require a higher level of skill.  I was just lucky that the agency I started with had a training program that was pretty focused and you were cleared to do missions as your skill level increased.  Most agencies don't operate like that.

 

LE aviation can be pretty misunderstood.  Ive been asked a number of times if I plan on ever getting my FAA ratings.  And when I respond "Huh?"  I get back "well you don't have a pilots license do you?  Because you fly public use?"  I did tell a guy once that I taught myself to fly a 500E with the POH in my lap and he went on his way shaking his head  :P We would get a number of low time CFIs who would come down to the hangar with their resumes offering their newly minted CFI and talking about how valuable they would be to the operation because they could help us work on our ratings.  Funny considering 3 out of the 5 pilots were dual rated CFIs or CFII's already.  

 

Nothing I enjoy more than reading the urban legends of people who claim to know LE pilots who don't have pilots licenses and who taught themselves how to fly on their own and who are exempt from all the FARs, or that LE pilots cant get jobs once they retire   :D


Edited by Flying Pig, 01 July 2014 - 09:07.

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#50 Flying Pig

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Posted 01 July 2014 - 09:13

 

 

Lastly, why is it when LE aviators retire, they ALWAYS pursue aviation related jobs and not LE related jobs?  

Why wouldn't they?  You aren't going to retire and then go become a cop again at another agency and start out at the bottom of the totem pole again.  Unless you changed states, your retirement wouldn't let you.  When cops retire, they usually either just stay retired or they go into the civilian sector with the specialty they learned as a cop.  Investigations, Crash reconstruction, Dignitary Security....why would an LE pilot go work for Wells Fargo as an investigator when they could retire and go fly somewhere?  


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#51 Spike

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Posted 18 July 2014 - 11:53

why would an LE pilot go work for Wells Fargo as an investigator when they could retire and go fly somewhere?


For the money……

 

Most of the non-aviator retied guys I know have gone on to other agencies (with different retirement systems) enabling them to double-dip. Shoot, we have several “ex’s” and their pulling down close to 200K. Furthermore, these guys totally understand the politics involved with LE and 100% appreciate being at the bottom. After that, when these guys retire for the second time, they’ll be living FAT! With this type of incentive, why fly and work for peanuts?

 

The reality is; most cops who gravitate internally towards aviation do it with the intention to have the department pay for their training allowing them the ability to have a second career away from LE… Therefore, if a former LE pilot can slide into an ENG gig, why can’t an ENG pilot slide into a LE gig? The answer is they could, if the archaic longstanding culture simply evolved….. It short, why do most agencies to it their way? Simply because it’s the way they’ve always done it…..

 

Again, fun topic not meant to disrespect any particular agency…


Edited by Spike, 18 July 2014 - 11:53.


#52 Flying Pig

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Posted 19 July 2014 - 11:31

For the money……

 

Most of the non-aviator retied guys I know have gone on to other agencies (with different retirement systems) enabling them to double-dip. Shoot, we have several “ex’s” and their pulling down close to 200K. Furthermore, these guys totally understand the politics involved with LE and 100% appreciate being at the bottom. After that, when these guys retire for the second time, they’ll be living FAT! With this type of incentive, why fly and work for peanuts?

 

The reality is; most cops who gravitate internally towards aviation do it with the intention to have the department pay for their training allowing them the ability to have a second career away from LE… Therefore, if a former LE pilot can slide into an ENG gig, why can’t an ENG pilot slide into a LE gig? The answer is they could, if the archaic longstanding culture simply evolved….. It short, why do most agencies to it their way? Simply because it’s the way they’ve always done it…..

 

Again, fun topic not meant to disrespect any particular agency…

Not that I have any hard data.... but in my experiences, most LE pilots don't stay in aviation.  Ive know several who got in to the unit as a TFO, became pilots, and a few years later left and promoted up.   If I was a betting man I would say most LE pilots do not finish their LE careers as pilots.  And even fewer fly after they retire.  



#53 ospreydriver

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 20:29

And yet, here I am, a pilot, trying to get into law enforcement (albeit as a pilot).  


"Why can't we buy just one airplane and let the pilots take turns flying it?"--President Calvin Coolidge


#54 Flying Pig

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 08:47

It's a pretty small sliver of the helicopter world I would imagine. Then take off the percentage of units who don't hire pilots externally and it gets even smaller.

#55 Gunner

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Posted 04 February 2015 - 14:07

Just an FYI Fairfax County is looking for another pilot.  Check out Fairfaxcounty.gov for the listing...



#56 oldLEO

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Posted 06 February 2015 - 10:33

 

 

Lastly, why is it when LE aviators retire, they ALWAYS pursue aviation related jobs and not LE related jobs?  

 

 

I don't know if you received an answer to this question or if you meant it to be rhetorical, but the reason usually has to do with pension conflicts.  In California, an LEO cannot work full-time for another L.E. Agency in the same State pension system- called PERS.  An LEO can work for an agency part-time but there is a strict cap on the amount of hours worked in a year.  Many agencies don't want to deal with a violation of the State pension system rules.  An LEO could go to another State and work as a Cop but not many want to start all over again, as most jobs and work schedules are seniority based.

 

On an anecdotal note, after doing almost 30 years of Police work, me and my buddies had had enough of it and the farthest thing from our minds was to hire on with another P.D.   


Marveling at the Design...


#57 Flying Pig

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Posted 08 February 2015 - 11:51

Fairfax would be a neat agency because of it's mission and it's location. Gunner, to bad you didn't catch me about 6 months ago :) I'm having a blast here now.

#58 eddiebauer86

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 10:49

Ive noticed severa announcements from Maryland State Police over the years. Does anyone have any inside info on turn-over there, or is the operation so big, they just have a lot of people to replace due to normal attrition. Likewise with Fairfax, ive seen there posting a couple times here recently.

 

Just curious if there is something there people dont particularly care for or what?



#59 apacheguy

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Posted 25 March 2015 - 12:10

Ive noticed severa announcements from Maryland State Police over the years. Does anyone have any inside info on turn-over there, or is the operation so big, they just have a lot of people to replace due to normal attrition. Likewise with Fairfax, ive seen there posting a couple times here recently.

 

Just curious if there is something there people dont particularly care for or what?

They do have turnover since they train you to fly the AW139, but don't pay a whole lot, so people get some 139 time and then split for better paychecks (GOM, overseas).  

 

As far as the frequent announcements, their hiring process takes literally years to get through (at least in my experience it does).  They are very picky about hiring. 



#60 Flying Pig

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Posted 27 March 2015 - 16:46

They have a hard time getting people past the Backgrounds and more so, the polygraphs.  






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