In 1990, the Metro Nashville Police Department’s Aviation Unit purchased McDonnell Douglas 500E helicopters. One of the helicopters was purchased with confiscated drug monies. The 500E helicopters are equipped with Allison C-20B250 jet engines. Their top speed is over 150 mph. They can sustain a cruising speed of approximately 130 mph.
The department acquired eight Bell OH58A/C helicopters through the military surplus program with no local burden to taxpayers. These helicopters have been retrofitted and are now in service.
The helicopters have special search equipment including Sunburst 15 million candlepower search lights, Avalex brand moving map systems, and F.L.I.R. brand (forward looking infrared) color camera systems with microwave downlinks. The F.L.I.R. systems provide the crew with night vision (thermal imaging) and digital recording capabilities.
Aviation crews respond to over two thousand (2,000) calls for service each year. These calls include searches for lost children, escaped prisoners, fleeing felons, vehicle pursuits, vice operations, drug eradications, and searches for victims of murder or suicide. The Aviation Unit will respond to any call for service that is better handled by the performance of an aerial equipment platform.
The Aviation Unit also participates in marijuana eradication during the outdoor marijuana growing season. Aviation officers have been very successful in spotting outdoor marijuana grow operations. Once an operation is located an investigation and subsequent eradication is conducted.
Officer Hansel and Lt. Spencer