Patrol Support has always been the cornerstone of what ASTREA does. Whether assisting ground units with a vehicle pursuit or looking for a missing person at risk, ASTREA’s primary goal is to increase the safety and effectiveness of patrol operations.
This is accomplished with a two person crew, pilot in the left seat and tactical flight officer (observer) in the right seat. The pilot is primarily responsible for safely maneuvering the aircraft so the TFO can do his job. The TFO is responsible for the operation of the FLIR (infrared imaging), search light, public address system, and several police radios.
Search and Rescue (SAR) is also one of ASTREA’s primary duties. Most rescues can be accomplished with the smaller MD-500 series helicopter, but in instances requiring a hoist rescue, we utilize the larger, more powerful Bell 205.
The picture on the right shows the Bell 205 A1++ in action utilizing the hoist.
Fire Suppression got even more effective with the addition of the two Bell 205 medium lift helicopters. Both are equipped with 375 gallon “belly tanks” which can disperse water or a foam mixture to assist fire fighting. They also transport fire fighters to the fire.
The MD-500 series helicopter is still available for use in fire fighting utilizing the 100 gallon “Bambi Bucket.”
ASTREA works closely with Narcotics Task Force (NTF) personnel in the Marijuana Eradication role. Trained agents spot the marijuana from the air and direct ground units for arrest and/or confiscation. Often the marijuana may be located in a remote area and need to be flown out by helicopter to waiting trucks. This is accomplished using a “long line” steel cable and several heavy duty cargo nets.
Public Relations and Static Displays help educate the public about the role ASTREA plays within the Sheriff’s Department and the county.
ASTREA can assist ground units with Surveillance and Reconnaissance and Photo Flights, often in preparation for a high risk warrant service.