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I'm a Cop. Best Route to Take to Fly as Police Pilot?


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#1 Mdean1288

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 10:42

Hello all, I have been a police officer for nearly 5 years, I'm 29 and have no degree. There are 2 things I've always wanted to do for a career, one of them I'm doing now as a cop, and the other is fly professionally..... I never really had a preference as to what kind of flying until I got a job working around helicopters. If I could fly as a cop I would essentially have my holy grail job. My question is, what would be the best route to take to maximize my chances of being hired as a LEO pilot? I have considered quitting my current job, enrolling in an integrated flight school, working as pilot doing whatever I can to build hours, and then going back to an agency that has a flight division once I have 1500-2000 hours or so (I realize it would take several years). What are the chances an agency would take me on directly as a sworn pilot? Would I most likely have to work on the street again, and get in line, or could I just hop in the seat right off the bat? I haven't been able to find someone on here or anyone else that has taken this approach, which I assume is mainly due to the amount of time away from LE one would have to spend building hours, and the amount of debt one would accrue in the process. I don't want to go work for another agency just for the sole purpose of trying to get into their flight program. I'd have a better chance at winning the lottery and buying my own dang helicopter.

 

Also, let me just add that the agency I work for now does not have a flight division. So I would have to quit my current job eventually anyways, regardless of the path I choose.



#2 ShelbyFlyer

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 22:00

I don't think there is a "best way" answer that is going to satisfy your question.  Mainly because the requirements for law enforcement agencies differ quite drastically.  Some units require very little flying experience and some require significant amounts. Some units require field experience of differing amounts and there are some that take non-sworn pilots. Large agencies tend to offer more opportunity, as many as 20 or pilot positions.

 

My suggestion, decide what region of the country you want to call home.  Decide what kind of law enforcement flying you wish to do.  Meaning, some agencies are strictly law enforcement (LAPD model).  Others do law enforcement as well as search and rescue (Sheriff Departments). Some cover relatively small areas and some cover entire states (DPS, CHP, State) and federal.

 

Then take a look at job sites like JSfirm.  Hopefully the nexus of the above questions bring you to possible agencies.  They will list the aviation requirements  Those that require agency or field experience will probably only advertise through their internal promotion process.  For those agencies, best to reach out and try to talk with somebody in the unit or recruitment.  Probably goes without saying but requirements are only the starting point.  You always want to make your self as competitive as possible. 

 

Everybody that responds will have a way that may work.  I would say get to an agency that has an air unit with requirements that you can reasonably attain while building your seniority.  And make yourself as competitive as possible.  Go beyond the requirements get the commercial, IFR, CFII.  Look for specialized training for the missions that your targeted unit performs: mountain, long-line, fire fighting.  Try to get time in the same machines. Look into the academics of aviation focused schools (Emery Riddle, USC Viterbi, etc).  



#3 Bonzo828

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 08:14

This is a tough question to answer as there are tons of departments with air units and most of them do things a little differently.  You could try getting on with a department that has a unit that posts for pilot spots internally (some have even taken guys with no flying exp. and trained them up).  You would have to work the street for a while and even when a spot opens, no guarantees you get it.  You could get your CPL and then go work for a department that has a unit.  You could get your CPL and build time and put in for one of the many units that post externally and hire you on as a civilian.  

 

I'm sure some of the more seasoned guys on here may have better ideas.  I will say this based on my own experience.  Have a back up plan.  If you are going to spend money on training make sure you plan on doing other things with it other than LE aviation (CFI, tours etc.).  The agency I work for has a decent sized unit and i have spent several years on the street, building relationships and paying out of pocket to finish my CPL.  The chief has now decided to hire all civilians into the unit.  This means I won't be able to go to our unit for the foreseeable future.  Just something to think about.  Luckily I have other opportunities to use my CPL.  Hope that helps.


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#4 Gunner

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 20:08

You could also go the Civilian route as well.  There are a handful (not many) that employ civilian pilots that work alongside Sworn LEO.  Maryland State PD, Fort Worth PD and my employer, Fairfax County...  Of course you would need to get all your ratings and build your time somehow but these jobs are out there.  Our biggest issue is finding folks who can pass the poly.



#5 r22butters

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 21:12

Our biggest issue is finding folks who can pass the poly.

Yes, all of my 1500 PIC hours are 100% legitimate (by the book) Pilot In Command, myself as "sole manipulator of the controls"!

BEE BEE BEEE BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

,...sh*t!
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The only dream I have left is to live long enough to see the pilot shortage. Its been about fourteen years since they first told me it was coming, so,...

Aaaaaaaany day now! :D

#6 Gunner

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 21:25

Yes, all of my 1500 PIC hours are 100% legitimate (by the book) Pilot In Command, myself as "sole manipulator of the controls"!

BEE BEE BEEE BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

,...sh*t!

 

Ha!  That was my final question.... 



#7 OH58A

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 07:48

In Fl. many agencies are using both sworn and non sworn outside hires. There are many smaller agencies that have very active air units.(mine included). You might consider transferring to agency that has an air unit and then working on your certifications on your days off, that's what I did. Yes it will take some time, but at least you will have a job with benefits in case it doesn't work out. We have hired from outside and trained people from inside, it all depends on the circumstances. Our MINIMUM requirements are COMM. RW with INST rating and 300 flight hours(can be combined with FW), and yes, I have turned pilots out as PIC with the minimum time depending on a lot of other factors. Join the Airborne law Enforcement Assoc. alea.org which is our professional organization. Not only will you be able to follow this industry but they often post opening for pilots at different agencies. good luck.



#8 Dnr032

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 07:25

 Our biggest issue is finding folks who can pass the poly.

 

Same at our agency, plus background check and Department tattoo policy.



#9 r22butters

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 11:08

 Our biggest issue is finding folks who can pass the poly.
 
Same at our agency, plus background check and Department tattoo policy.

God dammit! I just got inked to commemorate my one thousandth hour!

,...oh' well stripping my way through flight school probably disqualified me anyway :(
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The only dream I have left is to live long enough to see the pilot shortage. Its been about fourteen years since they first told me it was coming, so,...

Aaaaaaaany day now! :D

#10 Eric Hunt

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 02:27

When I worked for them (1982-1989) the state police only hired experienced (3000+ hrs, most of us started with 5000+) pilots. We then went through training at the police academy (copper refinery) and emerged as sworn police, but went straight onto flying duties.

 

The real policing was up to the two cops we carried as observers, and the pilot's job was to put the machine where the observer wanted it to be. It was up to us to deal with ATC, performance abilities, noise etc and sometimes we just had to say "No." But mostly we did a superb job and the ground police who made the arrests were eternally grateful.

 

There was rescue work and other stuff like flood relief and surveillance, done in those days with a street directory and gyro-stabilised binoculars. Luckily, things have improved somewhat. But having experienced pilots in the front was considered essential, due to the work carried out. Training street cops was briefly considered (mainly as a result of a Ministerial Complaint submitted by a street cop with a CPL) but it was a disaster (as expected) and the complainer went back on the street and got the really rotten jobs, as he was useless on the street too.



#11 Whistler

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 09:44

what is the issue with the poly?  I've always heard its a huge barrier... I've always thought about trying to get into the LE side of things but I'm afraid to put in all the work only to be disappointed.  I have no criminal record, nothing more than a speeding ticket that was like 10 years ago.  I don't smuggle people accross the border or run a meth empire out of a laundromat basement... I have never even smoked weed.  But I think I pulled the tag off a mattress when I was 11.

 

It's my understanding that even people with clean backgrounds and nothing to hide fail sometimes. Is it nerves?  



#12 r22butters

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 22:15


The only dream I have left is to live long enough to see the pilot shortage. Its been about fourteen years since they first told me it was coming, so,...

Aaaaaaaany day now! :D

#13 Goldy

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Posted Today, 00:11

Yes they are all different requirements. Los Angeles County Sheriff now only requires a private helo cert, and even that may be going away. Couple years of patrol, couple years as an observer. Great department and you can move from flying Astars to flying SAR with our Super Pumas...


Fly Safe !!

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