About the Aviation Team
Aviation Hangar at Martin State Airport
The Baltimore County Police Department (BCoPD) Aviation Team began in 1983 as a part-time, fixed-wing only program. Today, the Aviation Team provides 16 hours of patrol coverage each day, with 24-hour, on-call availability in case of emergencies. Since 1983, the Team has flown more than 35,000 flight hours without an accident.
The Team operates three Airbus AS350B3 helicopters with the designated call signs of “County Air” 1, 2 and 3.
The Aviation Team is based out of the Martin State Airport in Middle River, Maryland.
Why is the Helicopter Flying Over My Neighborhood?
The Aviation Team participates in a wide variety of police activity, including daily patrol and neighborhood crime-fighting. The helicopters are tools that are crucial to officer safety because they provide command and control, and valuable information during critical incidents such as:
- Crimes in progress
- Barricaded suspects
- Suspects fleeing on foot or in a vehicle
The Aviation Team is also an invaluable asset in searching for critical missing children and elderly persons.
In 2016 the Aviation Team flew more than 1,700 flight hours and responded to more than 5,000 calls for service supporting the patrol division and specialized investigative units. The total calls for service included more than 2,100 searches and resulted in 223 arrest assists, the recovery of 21 LOJACK equipped stolen vehicles and the location of 31 critical missing subjects, who returned home or to a medical facility.
In addition, the Aviation Team also flew in support of and assisted neighboring jurisdictions and federal agencies.
Aviation Team Personnel
The Aviation Team consists of a supervisor, a sergeant and trained pilot, five full-time officers and pilots, and five Tactical Flight Officers (TFOs). The pilots serve a dual role as pilot and TFO and must be proficient in the TFO skill set. Pilots and TFOs are selected from within the ranks of the Police Department.
To be eligible to apply for the officer and pilot position, applicants must possess an FAA commercial pilot license, FAA medical certificate and have a minimum of 1,000 turbine helicopter flight hours as a pilot in command.
To be eligible for selection as a TFO, applicants must have a minimum of five years of commendable departmental experience. TFOs come from varied backgrounds within the department in the fields of patrol, traffic and criminal investigation. Pilots and TFOs must complete a selection process including a resume review, an inflight practical evaluation, a panel interview and underwater egress training.
The Patrol Helicopter
BCoPD's patrol helicopters are equipped with an array of multifrequency radios and mission equipment. The radios enable the crew to communicate simultaneously with air traffic control and nearby flying aircrafts, departmental ground units, neighboring law enforcement agencies, joint multijurisdictional task forces and federal agencies.
Each helicopter is equipped with an infrared thermal imager, a 30-million candlepower search light, a color video camera, a moving street map, a flight terrain and obstacle avoidance system, electronically stabilized binoculars, a LOJACK stolen auto signal receiver, microwave video downlink system, weather radar and a rescue hoist.
In addition to normal patrol duties throughout the County, the Aviation Team performs search and rescue operations with Advanced Tactical Rescue (ATR) technicians from the Baltimore County Fire Department’s (BCoFD) Station number 17; together, BCoFD’s ATR team and the BCoPD Aviation Team comprise the Maryland Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team, MD-HART.