Local officers train with Air National Guard RAID unit

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Thursday afternoon 10 members of the Greenville Police Department had the opportunity to take part in a class that displayed the uses of the FLIR system in crime prevention. The class was presented by the Air National Guard.

&uot;This class is for basically any of the guys that have never flown in a helicopter before or didn’t know anything about it,&uot; said Lt. Randall Courtney. &uot;It’s a familiarization to them on the safety equipment and to give them an opportunity to fly. If they come down, usually they want one of us to get up there and go with them because they don’t know the area and need someone to show them where the house is. Believe me, it looks a lot different when you get up there than it does on the streets.&uot;

The ANG’s RAID unit was one of the agencies participating last year when the Greenville Police Department served warrants.

&uot;When we go hit the houses, they’ll cover us,&uot; said Courtney. &uot;They are a big help if somebody runs. And it’s good just for the effect of it. They are here to help anyway they can. They are here for us.&uot;

When the officers went up in the helicopter, those on the ground had the opportunity to see what those in the sky were seeing.

FLIR, which stands for Forward-Looking Infrared Radar is a camera that is attached to the bottom of the helicopter and provides people on the ground with a visual of what the pilots are seeing.

&uot;I flew in a helicopter before and I felt a little oriented with this,&uot; said Sgt. Justin Lovvorn. &uot;Even though I wasn’t sure what I was in for being in a different kind of helicopter and a different kind of operation. The first helicopter I flew in was a sight-seeing one. I was a little nervous in this one, but I still felt comfortable being up there.&uot;

While Lovvorn was on his trip, the officers on the ground had the opportunity to see the FLIR system first hand.

FLIR is an onboard camera that has the ability to spot on cars, houses, people and even has the capabilities to tell when soil has been disturbed.

The system locked in on a van turning off I-65 and into the Smokehouse. The officers watched as the van drove around and finally back underneath the cover where the gas pumps are.

Lovvorn also got to experience an overhead view of his family member’s home.

&uot;It kind of caught me a little off guard,&uot; said Lovvorn. &uot;I didn’t know what he meant when he asked me if I wanted an overhead view of the house. Next thing I know I’m at a 90-degree angle looking straight down out the door window at the top of my house. It caught me a little off guard, I got a little excited. But after I gained my composure, I was able to take the photo that I had wanted to take. It was great fun. I learned about narcotics interdiction and what they do to help us out. I am looking forward to working with them in the future.&uot;

For officer Curtis Miller, riding in a helicopter was nothing new.

&uot;I have a lot of experience flying helicopters in the military,&uot; said Miller. &uot;So I got a lot out of it just relating to law enforcement. This is the first time dealing with helicopters in law enforcement so it was good training. It was fun to just sit back and watch and see how they operate the FLIR system.&uot;

The use of helicopters in law enforcement is becoming more and more prevalent as a part of homeland security and can be used as eyes in the skies when it comes to aiding police officers on the ground.