Harford County Sheriff's Department launches aviation unit

Sheriff L. Jesse Bane announced the Harford County Sheriff's Office Aviation Unit became operational Thursday.

Bane explained that initially the helicopter will fly daytime missions only until the pilots become night vision goggle certified.

"This training, while not required is necessary and highly recommended by police aviation units in Maryland and across the country, and will take several additional months to complete,” said Bane in a statement. "We want our pilots to receive the most comprehensive training available and this certification adds to their qualifications and makes them more versatile. We expect to begin night-time missions by mid-summer.”

Lt. Lee Dunbar, of the Aviation Unit said department’s pilots and tactical flight officers have been actively training with the Baltimore County Police Department's Aviation Unit where training consisted of ground school, safety techniques, water survival and cockpit egress methods, flying law enforcement missions in a safe and effective manner, crew resource management, onboard aircraft equipment familiarization and utilization, in-flight practical and real life training scenarios.

Harford County’s Aviation Unit will be based at the Forest Hill Air Park and fly with one pilot and one or two tactical flight officers. Surveillances, crime scene photography, post-disaster assessment, missing people searches and foot and vehicle pursuits are just some of the missions the aviation unit will assist with.

The helicopter is outfitted with the following mission equipment:

  • FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared)
  • Day Camera within the FLIR system
  • 16 Million Candle Power NightSun Spotlight
  • Police radio equipped with all the Baltimore Metro channels
  • Image stabilized high powered binoculars
  • Deployable life vests and rings


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