Airborne Law Enforcement Services

The Santa Ana Police Department partners with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in providing Airborne Law Enforcement to the city of Santa Ana. The department provides one full-time pilot to the air support unit.  The helicopter, named “Duke” responds to thousands of calls for service each year in Santa Ana, providing ground officers with valuable tactical information.  Each year the helicopter crews assist with hundreds of arrests, pursuits and crimes in progress.  Many suspects would not be captured without the assistance of the helicopter.  “Duke” is equipped with the latest technology, such as, HD infrared and video cameras, moving maps, DVD recorders and high powered lighting equipment.



Q: What are the hours of operation of the helicopters?
A: The airships are available on an as-needed basis, 24hrs a day, and 365 days per year.

Q: Why does the department use helicopters?
A: There are several reasons:

  1. Helicopters allow for quick response to calls for service and crimes in progress.  They are usually on scene within minutes of a request. 
  2. The pilot and flight officers are experienced police officers who provide ground officers with valuable information and an overall picture of a scene, such as: intersection status during pursuits and at accident scenes, suspect direction of travel and description, traffic conditions, and vehicle speeds.
  3. Helicopter technology such as the FLIR, allow the crews to find hiding suspects through their body heat during darkness, which significantly improves officer and citizen safety.
  4. The mere presence of the helicopter frequently contains suspects who stop and hide because they don't want to be seen running.