Fresno Police Department
The Mission of the
Fresno Police Department Air Support Unit-Skywatch
The mission of the Fresno Police Department’s Air Support Unit is to provide aerial support to the Field Operations Division of the Fresno Police Department. Limited air support is provided to other units, departments or agencies as needed within the sphere of Fresno.
Air Support Unit-Skywatch
2007 was the ten-year anniversary for the Fresno Police Department’s Air Support Unit and its helicopter patrol service. After starting in 1996 with three piston-driven helicopters, the unit has truly evolved. The Air Support Unit is the Department's "Force Multiplier," which results in law abiding citizens feeling more secure and ground officers having a significantly increased sense of security in tactical situations. Through this unit, police supervisors have a pursuit management tool which allows ground units to reduce speeds and distance themselves from pursued vehicles, reducing the potential for hazard arising from high-speed pursuits.
The Air Support Unit currently utilizes two American Eurocopter EC 120 turbine helicopters. The Air Unit has logged over 5,700 accident-free flight hours in the new turbine powered helicopters and a total of 19,634 accident-free helicopter flight hours since 1996. The Air Support Unit has also added a Cessna 206 airplane to the fleet to assist with homeland defense missions.
Both helicopters are fully equipped with the latest and greatest state-of-the-art airborne law enforcement equipment such as: FLIR (Forward Looking Infra Red--a combined aircraft mounted video and infra red camera system), a 30 million candle power Night Sun searchlight, MDS computer, Aerocomputer Moving Map (combing 5 various topographical maps, aeronautical charts, parcel map, GPS navigational aide, etc), along with ProNet and Lo Jack receivers.
The Skywatch helicopters continue to play a major role in reducing the Fresno Police Department's overall police response times by posting an average response time of less than a minute, 35 seconds for the year of 2009 to be exact. In the year 2008 the Skywatch helicopters have achieved an all time high in the percentage of arriving first-on-scene to calls. Skywatch arrived first- on-scene in 2009 62% of the time. The Air Support Unit prides itself on its continued support of Fresno Police Department personnel and ultimately for providing a much needed blanket of security to the citizens of Fresno and Fresno County.
Skywatch currently has one sworn Police Helicopter Chief Pilot, one sworn Police Helicopter Command Pilot, one civilian Helicopter Command Pilot, three sworn Police Helicopter Tactical Flight Officers, one sworn Police Sergeant Fixed-Wing Command Pilot, one part-time sworn Police Sergeant Fixed-Wing Command Pilot, one Police Captain, and two civilian mechanics.