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I have a couple of questions to help me decide which career route to take. Can anyone help?


Does your department only hire law enforcement graduates, or will they hire outside pilots?

If you have to be a cop, do they require you to work on the road first and for how long?

Is there anyone from Customs/border patrol/homeland security (whatever its called now), do they require time on the ground first?

Any other section of law enforcement represented here, and how does your hiring work?

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Jeff (Eagle1) is exactly right, I don't know of any two agencies that have exactly the same requirements to get into the pilot's seat of their helicopters. Some are based solely on your background and experience in helicopters and some are based solely on your political connections. Most are somewhere between, but you are going to have to look at each individual agency to find out.


I can speak for my agency however, you will need to be a street cop first. Sucessful completion of the academy, a sixteen week field training program and a year of probation (which starts the day you are sworn in--the sixteen week FTO program is included). We have taken people out to the unit before the probationary period was completed, but that was because of the need to fill a slot. I would expect to spend between 1-5 years on the street before you would be eligible to come out to the unit. The department currently requires the pilot candidate to get his/her fixed wing instrument/commercial ratings before being trained or promoted to pilot. The candidate will be trained in our helicopters and get a commercial add-on helo rating at the department's expense. The department sends each pilot to Texas for Bell 407 initial training. A pilot will fly about 600-800 hours a year.

Our website has more info on the police officer requirements and pay (a pilot makes a little more than a corporal).


Tampa PD


Just a personal note: Attitude plays a very big role in getting out to a unit. Be the best street officer possible and get a good reputation and you will eventually get out to a slot in the aviation unit. A bad reputation on the street will keep you out of the pilot's seat no matter how good your flying resume is (as always--IMHO).


Good luck,


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Thanks guys,

Heloplt, You mention the flight training, how much of a difference does it make to already have your Helo CFI, and would it make much more difference if you had a commercial fixed?


I'll read the other link before I post more questions.


Thanks again

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My dept wanted lots of patrol experience in a busy station (Los Angeles) first.  The didnt' really care about aviation experience.  I had to have outstanding evals, training officer experience, extensive patrol training at a fast station etc...


To be a pilot, then they wanted aviation experience and my dept only hires sworn pilots from our "observer pool."  I think that's the only fair way to choose anyway.

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