SPECIAL UNIT PROFILE
Broward County Sheriff’s Office provides multimission capability in south Florida
Av unit supports agency’s air, land and marine divisions.
(L–R) Dir of Maintenance Thomas Edison and Maint Technicians Carl Carner and Gerardo Irizarry complete most of the Aviation Unit’s work in-house.
Currently BSO has 3 Eurocopter aircraft on the line. Its 2nd EC135 was acquired recently and is being modified to support LE and EMS duties. The EC135 currently flying was built in 1999 and is a P1 variant with Pratt & Whitney power.
It is currently undergoing NVG conversion and will be the first of this type to receive an STC for night vision capability. Law enforcement equipment on the EC135 includes FLIR Systems Ultra 7000 imager, AeroComputers moving maps with monitors in the front and rear of the aircraft, Broadcast Microwave Services video downlink, Spectrolab Illumination Systems SX16 Nightsun and Technisonic Communications TFM550 police radios.
Avionics include dual Garmin GNS430, Bendix/King EHSI and TCAS. The aircraft is also equipped for medical transport and has a Zoll Medical Corp heart monitor/defibrillator, StatPacks, and the LifePort medical interior installed for 2 patients.
The EC130B4 was delivered in 2002 and carries the SX16 Nightsun, FLIR 8500, BMS downlink, an AeroComputers moving map system and a LoJack stolen vehicle recovery system.
Avionics are similar to the EC135’s. The EC130 is equipped to transport 1 patient. BSO’s AS350B2 AStar was built in 1991 and is equipped for LE and medevac missions much as the EC130.
Sgt Owens has worked closely with Sheriff Lamberti to build a comprehensive aviation unit able to respond to the growing needs of the Sheriff’s Office and the county. Lamberti is an ardent supporter of the unit, its initiatives and personnel.
Owens intends to achieve several goals before retiring in the next few years. One is to expand the unit to provide dedicated LE and EMS ships around the clock—another, to standardize the fleet with the EC135. Owens cites all the advantages of a single aircraft type in terms of safety and cost.
Owens and his staff run outreach programs and offer training to other BSO units (as well as city police and fire agencies in Broward County) about the Aviation Unit’s capabilities. Owens believes that this will allow them to better serve those needs, provide a greater range of air support and increase utilization of all unit services—particularly EMS transport.
A low-key approach
Keeping it low-key for the units on the ground, as Spear puts it, is what the work of the Aviation Unit is all about. Deputy/Pilot Jesus Madrigal adds, “You can appreciate what the troops need when you’ve wrestled with a bad guy by yourself at night.”
And thousands of times last year, that’s just what the pilots and medics at the Broward Sheriff’s Office Aviation Unit accomplished—being there for their partners on the ground.
Brent Holman has held a variety of flight training and operations management positions at a major US air carrier for the past 25 years, in addition to flying the line. He has also been involved in law enforcement aviation as a reserve officer/helicopter pilot for over 2 decades.