Jump to content

Aerial Use of Force

Recommended Posts

Hey guys, can anyone inform me which law enforcement agencies out there have an AUF policy. A few years ago my understanding was that the USCG was the first LE agency allowed to use AUF from helicopters. They established HITRON in Jacksonville for the purpose of counter-narcotics, then shortly after that other units started arming their helo's for counter-terrorist/LE missions. The USCG also started using marksmen shooting out of US and Allied Navy helicopters. Reason being the Navy by itself is restrained by Posse Commitatus, but a coastie in the back gives the helicopter LE authority. However, back when US Customs flew security for the ADIZ around the White House, I think they used to be armed or at least the agent in the back had his rifle. Since the CG took over that role, I believe they fly unarmed.


Reason I ask is because I ran into a County Sheriff's helicopter aircrew here in Florida a month back, and they said that most all departments/agencies with an aviation unit now are authorized and do practice shooting from their helo's.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Because this is a public forum and open to anyone I will not address any specific agency or operation. I will say that MANY law enforcement aviation units across the nation do have policies and procedures in place for airborne use of force. It is routinely practiced but rarely advertised.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Eagle1, that's what I was looking for. I realize it may be a pretty sensitive topic with regards to OPSEC. Keeping that in mind, if any agencies do publicize it I would be interested in knowing which agencies (FBI, DEA, CBP, etc.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Having flown AUF missions and one who was one of the original members of the USCGs AUF training branch as we developed AUF procedures beyond HITRON, I will say that while I have heard that there are non federal agencies using AUF procedures, in my opinion, they are playing with fire. There are loads of mandates/rules of engagement that come into play before you can fire a weapon out of an aircraft. If an agency is not intimately familiar with them and something goes wrong, there will be a lot of bad mojo.


AUF is a different animal in the rules and procedures than our counter-drug operations. I won't go into details but suffice it to say that the Rules of engagement are quite different.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well in case anyone else is interested, I did find a little more info.

Airborne LE


Just from this article you can include:






San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office

Orange County Sheriff's Office

Memphis PD?


in the list of other agencies with an AUF policy.


The articles also mention a few events where AUF was successfully used in CA a few years ago. Pretty interesting as I never knew of that before. Also, is there any difference between aircraft mounted weapons vs. a shooter firing from outside the aircraft with regards to the legal aspects; or possibly warning/disabling fire vs. deadly force? I'm not familiar with what the rules/mandates are for AUF but agree with DolphinDriver that all of the agencies new to this must know it inside and out so they can cover themselves in case anything ever happens.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with DolphinDriver that AUF rules of engagement are very specific when using it against an aircraft or vessel. Most non federal agencies are using it primarily against ground targets/suspects and there are no special rules that I am aware of. In fact I do not know of any rules that limit or prohibit it. I know personally where it was employed and neutralized the threat. Now having said that, you must be able to articulate why it was necessary and be able to account for every round you put downrange. You can bet you will be in civil court standing tall if you can't.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...