Understanding the advantages of public safety aviation, the City of Burbank has made a significant investment in establishing the Police Air Support Unit. In 1979, the City joined forces with the City of Glendale to create a joint Air Support Unit which continues to operate today.
The Air Support Unit, located at the Burbank Airport, has a staff of 5 police officers, 1 sergeant, and 1 civilian helicopter mechanic. The unit operates 7 days a week and remains on duty until the early morning hours.
Flying aerial patrol is the unit’s primary duty, but other duties include surveillances, SWAT insertion, fire long-line operations, fire observation flights, photo flights, search and rescue, and conducts ‘green pool’ mosquito- abatement operations, with city inspectors.
The unit provides patrol service to both the cities of Glendale and Pasadena, but will also provide emergency service to other government agencies when requested.
The unit has 3 MD520 NOTAR® helicopters (no tail rotor blades). These aircraft are known for being 50% quieter than helicopters with rear tail rotor blades. All aircraft is equipped with the latest hi-tech equipment which includes a video camera system that can broadcast a live video picture to television monitors on the ground, a computerized map guide (basically a “Thomas Guide” map on a computer screen), color video camera, GPS system, “Lo-Jack” system, and a FLIR camera (night time viewing capability).
Typically, when the air unit is dispatched to a call, it arrives at the scene before the first ground unit 75 % of the time.