On Saturday the Texas Citizen Police Academy Region 1 Alumni Association met at the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Training Academy for their monthly meeting. They were treated to a visit by the DPS Air Unit for the Houston Region. Pilot Lt. Brian Gahagan and Tactical Flight Officer Sgt. Dustin Gardner flew in to display and give them some information on the DPS Helicopter. DPS 102 based in Houston is one of 15 helicopters stationed around the state. They have several other aircraft in the unit including 9 fixed-wing aircraft. Besides Houston, DPS has helicopters in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Amarillo, Lubbock, Del Rio, Laredo, Edinburg, Alpine, El Paso, and Midland. DPS Pilots must have been at least a Trooper II, have a private pilot’s license. They also must serve as a Tactical Observer. The Tactical Observer must have successfully completed the DPS All-Service Recruit School and be currently employed as a DPS commissioned Trooper I. The applicant must have a minimum of one year of continuous service immediately prior to the date of the transfer request to the TFO position and also have at least (5) years of any combination of prior Law Enforcement or Military Service are eligible. Prior Law Enforcement or Military experience must be verifiable and demonstrate skill sets and aptitude to successfully complete the TFO Training process.
The Aircraft Operations Division actively seeks skilled individuals with Law Enforcement or Military Special Skill Sets relative to the job of TFO (examples include, but not limited to, SWAT, K9, Street Crimes, Highway Drug Interdiction, Helicopter Hoist Crew Chief, Aircraft loadmaster, FAA Pilot Certification, FAA Airframe/Power plant Certification, Air Traffic Controller Certification, Operation of Complex Aviation Mission Equipment). The helicopters are equipped with night vision, a high-power camera, and hi-intensity spotlight. They are also equipped with a FLIR unit that can spot a person on the ground from several thousand feet above. Some of the helicopters are equipped with hoists that can handle a 450-pound load for rescue operations. This was used extensively during Harvey. Montgomery County has used the services of the helicopter many times for search and rescue in The Woodlands and the Sam Houston National Forest. Also for pursuits and searching for suspects. As the pilot flies the Tactical Officer can guide officers to the person or vehicle as he controls the camera and is able to view it on his large monitors in front of him. The helicopter for Houston is based at the Houston Regional Office on West Road and 290 which is just minutes from Montgomery County by air. The attached video is a very good demonstration of the helicopter and crew’s capabilities.
EXCELLENT VIDEO PRESENTATION OF HELICOPTER INCLUDING BORDER OPERATIONS, FOLLOWING THE AUSTIN BOMBER, A PURSUIT WHERE A TROOPER IS SHOT AND A PURSUIT WHERE A FEMALE FLEES WITH A BABY