Florida TFOs “Get Local” with ARS
Throughout the summer of 2015, the Tampa Police Department, St Petersburg Police Department, and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office formed a multi-jurisdictional task force to combat a spike in auto thefts and auto burglaries which crossed the boundaries of their respective areas of responsibility.
Due to restrictions on pursuits for these offenses, use of aviation assets rapidly became critical to the task force’s success. Flights in support of the task force were operating over areas completely unfamiliar to the air crews. Normally this would present a problem in smoothly relaying information to the units on the ground, but the Churchill Navigation Augmented Reality System (ARS) made it possible for airborne units to operate as if operating in their own back yard.
In August, rotary-wing assets were asked to assist task force units in tracking a stolen vehicle. Upon arrival by the air crew, ground units lost sight of the vehicle but believed it to be in the area. Use of the infrared camera enabled the air crew to locate the vehicle parked, blacked-out on a side street and to coordinate with ground units to approach. Upon seeing the police vehicles, the suspects fled once again.
The air crew was able to track the vehicle’s movements and relay them to ground units without difficulty using map overlays provided by ARS. The air crew continued to follow the suspect vehicle until the occupants bailed out and ran into a residential neighborhood. Using the precise mapping information provided by ARS available in the cockpit, the crew was able to coordinate a perimeter and the deployment of multiple K9 assets from partner agencies. Three suspects were taken into custody without incident.
At the conclusion of the task force’s operation, one of the top leaders from a partner agency commented in a message to the Chief of Police that the air crews operated in his jurisdiction “as if they had lived there all their lives” — thanks to Churchill Navigation.