The Portland Police Bureau’s Air Support Unit was established in 1990, and provides fixed wing air support to all units within the Portland Police Bureau, as well as service to many surrounding agencies. This service and support is not limited to other law enforcement agencies, but also to other city bureaus, fire departments, search and rescue and federal agencies.
The history and evolution of this unit is based upon the dedication, determination and drive of the individual members for its success. Aviation is a specialized skill and when combined with the demands of law enforcement becomes a remarkable blend of technology, specialized knowledge and innovation.
The Air Support Unit, which is part of the Tactical Operations Division, provides observation, communication with ground units, geographical knowledge, decision making, and tactical knowledge, coordination of resources, crew coordination, and ability with technical equipment such as FLIR, moving map, lojack, and aircraft control. The Air Support Unit has flown an average of 750 hours a year for each of the past ten years. This is an incredible 225 missions annually, with only one full-time staff member. The missions are conducted in addition to all of the members’ regular duties.
The Air Support Unit has been involved in almost every landmark case and incident, providing air support to large scale investigations, gang violence investigations, violent crime, search and rescue, dignitary visits, crowd control and many more.