From locating someone in the middle of a field, who was moments away from taking their own life, to spotting a stolen vehicle driving dangerously fast down a residential street and holding the offender accountable – the first year in the sky was extremely rewarding and very successful for the Regina Police Service Aerial Support Unit.
The unit officially took flight on January 20, 2023 and it didn’t take long for the six-officer team to demonstrate the incredible value this tool brings to our city.
“We immediately saw the impact we could have from both an officer safety perspective and for the public too,” says Sgt. Steve Wyatt, an ASU Pilot. “When we are able to work with ground units to stop a suspect driving at high speeds in a stolen car, simply by following them via the ‘eye in the sky’ until they stop, this prevents so many possible negative outcomes.”
Between January 20, 2023 and January 31, 2024 ASU has been responsible for:
About the aircraft and onboard technology:
The aircraft used by the ASU is a 2005 Cessna 182T outfitted with a wide angle, infrared camera. It has a specially designed muffler system to reduce noise and pilots fly 1000 feet above the regulated height to further reduce disruption. The aircraft, the camera, and additional tools and technology were purchased through a partnership with Provincial Civil Forfeiture and SGI.
About the unit:
The Aerial Support Unit is made up of six Regina Police Service officers; two pilots and four Tactical Flight Officers (TFO). The pilots are trained RPS members with commercial pilot licenses. The Tactical Flight Officers are responsible for monitoring the police radio and camera technology and communicating with police units on the ground. Each shift, the plane is operated by one pilot and one TFO. The aircraft is patrolling the city from above approximately seven to ten hours per shift, with one break in between to refuel. Time in the air is weather dependent but the team met, and even slightly exceeded, their year-one goal of 1200 hours.
Over the past 12 months and during those 1260 hours in the air, ASU has greatly enhanced RPS’ ability to serve the community.
Disrupting a suspect’s dangerous behavior quickly and safely not only reduces further victimization, but it means officers can spend more time taking other calls for service. This has created efficiencies in a time when police are extremely busy and calls for service are becoming more complex. It has also made the job safer for our officers. When ASU is up in the air and on a call, they are able to see potential hidden dangers for officers on the ground before they approach.
The incredible thermal imaging technology aboard the aircraft serves many purposes. One of those is locating vulnerable people and, in some cases, saving their lives.
“We said right from the start of this, you can’t put a price on saving a life, and helping people is why we are all here,” explains Acting Deputy Chief Darcy Koch. “We couldn’t be more proud of the work that has been done by this team and everyone at RPS who has helped us achieve these incredible results.”