In the last nine years, many agencies have seen much greater cooperation between aviation and tactical units. These agencies recognize that they may be called upon to respond to a terrorist act and it is imperative that these units maintain a high state of readiness and cooperation. Using the unique capabilities of the helicopter, teams can rappel and fast-rope and counter-snipers can be deployed onboard aircraft. These new challenges and responsibilities require extensive training.
Obviously, the counter-terrorism mission is not going away anytime soon. The entire law enforcement community will be challenged to prevent these types of attacks and will seek out better training and equipment. Airborne law enforcement can expect to see improved cameras and surveillance capability both in fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft.
Another rapidly emerging technology will be unmanned aerial systems (UAS). These systems, which are slowly emerging on the law enforcement market, will provide yet another tool for numerous law enforcement missions. The unmanned aerial systems do provide many advantages but are still in their infancy. Their actual capabilities and effectiveness remain relatively unknown in law enforcement operations. It is not hard to imagine small unmanned aerial vehicles conducting discreet surveillance, monitoring shipping lanes or other high profile locations. Although they are largely untested, one thing is certain; the unmanned aerial system won’t be calling the Sergeant for a bathroom break!
The September 11th anniversaries are always a time for somber reflection about the sacrifices made by our fellow first responders. They also serve as a grim reminder about what we do and why we do it. Airborne law enforcement continues to meet these adversaries and will always be on guard to protect against terror.