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Helicopter Pilot Careers in Law Enforcement
In recent years there has been an increase in the use of helicopters by law enforcement. Helicopters provide a clear advantage to law enforcement. They offer speed, a bird's eye perspective, and the use of specialized sensors such as infrared that enable them to "see" in the dark. A career flying law enforcement helicopters is definitely within your reach and can offer excitement as well as financial rewards and job security.
Most, but not all law enforcement agencies require that you be a law enforcement officer before you become a pilot. This means attending the police academy and spending time in a patrol car or walking a beat. This will expose you to the situations that police officers on the ground encounter daily and you'll be better able to determine the best way to assist with an air unit. Some police aviation units, like the Maryland State Police Aviation Unit, are comprised of civilians. Others hire agencies to provide the helicopters and the pilots.
The scope and depth of law enforcement operations varies with the department. In general, larger departments have more capabilities than smaller departments. Some departments fly under VMC (visual meteorological conditions) only which means they need to be able to see the horizon to maintain the proper orientation of the aircraft while others operate in IMC (instrument meteorological conditions) which is flight solely referenced to the flight instruments. Some departments have forward looking infra red while others only have a spot light and others fly using night vision goggles.
Law enforcement flying for the most part is done close to the ground. Law enforcement helicopters are usually trying to find people and vehicles that are hidden or are trying to evade and/or escape. Because of this pilots who fly law enforcement helicopters must remain vigilant for obstructions such as towers and wires.
The text informs that the use of helicopters for law enforcement has: