The Robeson County Sheriff’s Office Aviation Division uses a Bell Ranger OH-58 Helicopter and two Drones to provide air support to the county and surrounding counties upon request.
The Aviation Division consists of an RCSO licensed Pilot, a licensed aircraft mechanic and a Forward Observer with decades of experience between the three. The Forward Observer is responsible for many valuable functions in the sky, such as backup navigation, field observation, communications, and camera operations.
The Aviation Division’s multifaceted mission includes surveillance flights, active searches for criminal suspects, searching for lost or endangered individuals, search and rescue missions, and disaster assessments. It will provide airborne support to Robeson County’s Emergency Services and Fire Departments.
The helicopter’s vantage point permits observation of activities not seen by ground officers, such as on rooftops, fenced yards, and fields. At normal patrol speeds and altitudes, a helicopter can keep an object in view on the ground ten times longer than a ground officer moving at normal street patrol speeds.
In addition to its many law enforcement applications, the helicopter may be required to assist other agencies in diversified missions. The Aviation Division also plays an active and critical role in activities relating to public relations and can offer an enjoyable engagement with kids.
The helicopter’s excellent visibility and the ability to hover make it a very effective search and rescue vehicle. Unhampered by terrain, a helicopter can quickly bypass ground obstacles, saving valuable time. It can search large areas rapidly, allowing ground searchers to concentrate on other search areas. The time saved can easily mean the difference between life and death.
Training personnel will continue with an emphasis on safety, search and rescue efforts. The aviation division seeks to add Forward Looking InfraRed (FLIR) and floodlight capabilities to the helicopter soon.
The helicopter itself and mandated maintenance come at no cost to the county.