The mission of the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office (CPSO) Aviation Unit is to provide aerial support for the organization's patrol, investigative and administrative needs and to support other public agencies in Southwest Louisiana to secure a safer environment for the commerce and well being of the citizens.
The goal of the Aviation Unit is to enhance the safety of the community and Sheriff's Office personnel through the strategic deployment of airborne technologies. The Unit strives to increase the safety of officers, as well as improve their effectiveness and efficiency through the timely use of properly equipped fixed-wing or rotary aircraft. The Unit also uses rotorcraft and powered parachute aircraft as needed to supplement its fixed-wing capability.
A United States Department of Homeland Security Port Security Grant provided funding for the purchase of the CPSO's fixed-wing Cessna aircraft and FLIR (forward looking infrared) technology. A subsequent grant provided for broadcast microwave downlink equipment which allows the aircrew to transmit the FLIR camera imagery to personnel on the ground in real time.
The aircraft is used in direct support of patrol operations as well as for surveillance activities and transportation as permitted by public law and or federal aviation regulations. The Aviation Unit is responsible for, but not limited to:
A. Providing air support to patrol operations
B. Providing the following special air support functions to units of the CPSO for the accomplishment of their missions.
1. Providing surveillance for investigative units;
2. Flying photographic missions as required for gathering evidence;
3. Transportation of prisoners, detectives and other CPSO personnel when appropriate;
4. Providing aerial security of V.I.P. and foreign dignitaries as required;
5. Search for lost or stranded persons and /or suspects; and
6. Any mission authorized by the Sheriff or the Sheriff's designee.
C. Providing assistance to incident commanders during unusual occurrences and other special events.
All of the CPSO pilots are volunteers, highly qualified, and all live in Calcasieu Parish. Most all of them have military, law enforcement or search and rescue flight experience. They all hold either a commercial or airline transport pilot certificate. They are from a variety of occupations such as an air traffic controller, a veterinarian , engineers, a school teacher, law enforcement, or small business owners.
The Airborne Law Enforcement Association standards recommend, although it is not required, that law enforcement pilots have at least a FAA Commercial Certificate. There are many agencies that allow private pilots to fly law enforcement aircraft. However, we wanted to set our bar high. That enabled us to spend less time getting those pilots comfortable in this aircraft. All of our pilots regularly fly aircraft more complex than the Sheriffâs Departmentâs Cessna 206. They fly sophisticated multi-engine aircraft and even business jets. So we did not have to spend the time most departments have to spend in training the pilots. As part of the purchase of the aircraft, Cessna sent a flight instructor to Lake Charles to give our pilots a two day course in this particular airplane and its systems.