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what's the difference between Sheriff,CHP,Police


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Is the mission any different flying for the Sherif, CHP, or Police dept? How does the street mission differ? Which ones tend have more air assets? I would like get into law enforcement, but which agencies are more likely to give the opportunity of progessing to aviation. I do have prior military exprience and low time in a Bell 206. Can anyone recommends any agencies in the Bay Area, CA.
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The short answer is the air unit will closely mirror the ground agencies mission.  The following is a general statement and there will be exceptions to everything listed below.  Also the roles of agencies around the country vary widely and what may be true for the area I work (Southern California) they may be completely different for Atlanta, Georgia for example.


The CHP is a state agency primarily tasked with patrolling the state highways and state buildings etc.  Their air units patrol these highways and protect structures and state infrastructure.  They also are used in rural areas for search and rescue and medivac missions.  In some states they serve as executive transport aircraft for state officials as well as their other duties.


The sheriff’s department is tasked with patrolling the entire county.  They usually have both city areas and rural areas to patrol.  Many times they are the only law enforcement in the area and might land to take enforcement action.  County agencies are many times tasked with search and rescue and fire fighting roles in addition to patrol duties.  Large counties might have a large helicopter (huey or a twin engine helicopter or even an H-3) dedicated to these duties separate from patrol aircraft.


City police agencies usually patrol urban areas with large population centers.  They rarely land for enforcement activities because there are usually enough patrol cars to handle calls and there are not many large open areas.  Some smaller agencies also use buckets to assist the fire department, which might not have a dedicated fire helicopter.  Large cities might have their own fire helicopter and so the police do not use their helicopters in that role.  A city police helicopter might handle 6-10 calls in an hour where a county or state helicopter might fly for an hour just to get to the call.


All of the above agencies are also being used in the homeland security role.


Again these are generalities, but I hope it helps.  As always research the agencies in your area or the area you wish to live and work and see what their mission is and how they operate.

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  • 1 month later...
If you are looking for LE in N. CA in the Bay area you may want to check out San Jose PD, I think they have an air unit, also try calling San Jose Municipal and ask what LE agencies land there.  I think Contra Costa County has an air unit and am not sure if any other agenices have helicopter units.  You may also want to check out the Airborn Law Enforcement Association website for links.
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  • 3 weeks later...

The Sonoma County Sheriff's rescue helicopter "Henry 1" is based in Santa Rosa, but regularly assists in rescue efforts in surrounding counties including Contra Costa, Alameda, and San Joaquin just to name three.


You can read about their multi-mission profile and see video clips here: henry1.com






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