The Metro Nashville Police Department Aviation Unit currently utilizes sworn officer pilots and civilian pilots to include supervisors who are also pilots. The unit also has full time mechanics on duty for repairs, inspections, and other maintenance activities. The unit also has an in-house flight instructor. (CFI) Having this capability is cost-effective and time saving; giving the unit the ability to do in-house training.
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, robberies, burglaries 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.
In 1990, the Metro Nashville Police Department’s Aviation Unit purchased McDonnell Douglas 500E helicopters. The 500E helicopters are equipped with turbine jet engines. Their top speed is over 150 mph. They can sustain a cruising speed of approximately 130 mph.
The department acquired the Bell OH58A/C helicopters through a government sponsored 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, 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. The pilots also utilize Night Vision Goggles (NVGs) while conducting missions during darkness.
The MNPD Aviation Unit attends several public demonstrations each year. The MNPD helicopters are seen at various events including MNPD Shoney’s 5K, Special Operations Division Open House, Nashville Night Out Against Crime, and various other community events at schools and community centers.