VPD taking advantage of DPS helicopters
Aug. 24, 2010 at 3:24 a.m.
ABOUT DPS AVIATION Consists of 46 pilots, 10 tactical flight officers, seven lieutenants, a captain, assistant chief pilot and a chief pilot.
Aids in manhunts, search and rescue, surveillance, criminal transportation and border security operations.
Currently runs 25 aircraft
Assists DPS personnel as well as local enforcement agencies
The Victoria Police Department has teamed up with the Texas Department of Public Safety to use helicopter enforcement in jurisdictions with high drug and gang activity.
Police Capt. Kevin Sanderson called it a "minor operation" that is utilized when suspects in those jurisdictions attempt to run from police.
Sanderson said the DPS provides the pilot and free helicopter enforcement as a way of fulfilling their state-required flying hours.
All operations involving DPS helicopters are executed during a patrol unit's regular shift and are at no cost to the city.
Sanderson credited the department's second platoon with taking advantage of new ways to patrol what he called criminal "hot spots."
"Basically, a patrol shift decided to be proactive, and if these guys decide to run on vehicle or on foot, we have access to a helicopter," Sanderson said, adding that the aircraft are equipped with night vision gear.
"In almost every part of town, for years and years, there have traditionally been areas prone to burglaries, drug activities and gang members," Sanderson said.
Several of those places have heavy tree cover and little lighting, which makes the use of high-tech helicopters and their spotlights beneficial, he added.
The helicopters have been called out two or three times over the last few weeks. Sanderson said he expects operations to continue occurring on the small scale, depending on officer workload and the kinds of activity officers see in their jurisdictions.