The Aviation Division is staffed with a Commander, Helicopter Flight Operation Supervisor, Fixed Wing Supervisor,
Director of Maintenance, fourteen sworn Deputies, five Civilians, two instructor pilots and an Administrative Coordinator. The
Division is a 24 hour a day 7 days a week operation.
The Aviation Division has four helicopters and two fixed-wing aircrafts. Our premier
helicopter is a Bell 407 with a call sign of "FOX 1." This helicopter is
equipped with FLIR (Forward Looking Infra Red), stabilized binoculars, Ultichart moving
map and an SX-5 night sun spotlight. This helicopter performs direct patrol, search and
rescue operations, narcotics surveillance and photo missions.
In addition, the Aviation Division operates "FOX 4," a Bell
Military OH-58. The helicopter was acquired in 1996 from the Defense Reutilization
Program. It was completely rebuilt and placed into service in July, 1988. This aircraft
is also used for direct patrol, search and rescue operations, narcotics surveillance and
"FOX 5" is a Schweitzer TH-55 helicopter. The Sheriff's
Office acquired eight of these aircrafts from the Defense Reutilization Program.
One of the eight helicopters acquired has been fully restored by the Maricopa County
Sheriff's Office and is the primary training aircraft for MCSO Aviation personnel.
This is the same type of aircraft used by the military to train pilots
since the 1960’s.
On the fixed wing side we operate two aircraft: a single engine Cessna 206
and a twin engine PA-31 Piper Navajo. Both aircraft are housed at our Glendale Hangar and
as a cost saving measure are primarily used for extraditing fugitives from other states across
the U.S. as well as narcotics and smuggling surveillance missions.
In November of 1986, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office sent representatives to California to examine several successful
law enforcement canine programs. As a result, the current Sheriff's Office Canine Unit was formed. Since 1986, this unit has
been recognized nationally for its excellence. In fact, the unit conducts several POST certified 320-hour canine training academies each
year. In these academies, handlers and canines are trained and certified for not only our agency, but many surrounding departments as well.
Upon completion of the canine academy, the canine teams then receive ten hours weekly in-service
proficiency training. The Sheriff's Office has four in-house trainers. The Unit utilizes imported animals and the German
method of training. Breeds utilized are German & Czechoslovakian Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Labrador Retrievers,
and Bloodhounds. A thorough selection process is used to select both the handler and the canine. During the selection of
the canine, the trainer rates certain desirable traits and drives, temperament, age of the canine, and any former training.
If accepted, the canine must then pass a very thorough medical exam.
The Sheriff's Canine Unit is comprised of 25 canines with various specialties. The unit currently has three single purpose narcotic detection
canines teams, one dual purpose narcotic and tobacco products detection team, 13 dual purpose narcotic detection and patrol teams, one single
purpose patrol team, dual purpose patrol and explosive ordinance detection teams, three single purpose trailing teams, and one cadaver detection
team. The unit is comprised of one Lieutenant, two Sergeants, 12 Deputies, and 8 Detention Officers.
Our patrol dogs are trained in building searches, area searches, officer protection, crowd control, trailing, and provide a strong psychological deterrent to certain types of criminal misconduct. Our cadaver canine is trained to find and passively alert on decaying human tissues, bones, and fluids. Our bloodhounds are utilized to track down suspects and locate missing or lost individuals.
Vehicles utilized by the canine unit are 4 X 4 four-door Chevrolet
Tahoes. They are equipped with aluminum inserts to protect the
canine and the interior of the vehicle, heat alarms to monitor the
vehicles inside temperatures, and even remote door poppers for rapid
deployment of patrol canines.
The canines also have bullet and stab protection via a kevlar
vest. The vests are manufactured by International Armor and were
donated by several citizens that reside in Maricopa County.
They weigh only approximately two pounds and are utilized during
Canine team members typically work patrol operations during peak activity hours,
usually from about 6 PM to 4 AM. They also augment SWAT operations; provide contractual services for narcotic detection at several
local schools; provide narcotic and explosive ordinance detection for not only our office, but for other local, state, and federal
agencies; they are on call 7 days a week 24 hours a day, and conduct over 100 public relations demonstrations annually.
The utilization of police canines provides law enforcement with a non-lethal means of apprehending dangerous criminal offenders; detecting intruders and alerting handlers to their presence; pursuing, attacking and holding criminal offenders who resist apprehension; searching and clearing buildings and large open areas for criminals; tracking lost children or other persons; detecting the presence of certain narcotics, explosives, and tobacco products; locating deceased subjects, crime scenes, and minute physical evidence; and provide a strong psychological deterrent to certain types of criminal misconduct.
The Tactical Operations Unit (T.O.U.) is a full-time unit which has the responsibility of
answering to sensitive, potentially life-threatening situations utilizing specialized equipment
and tactics to resolve them in as peaceful a manner as possible. This responsibility requires
a great deal of training and readiness. Some situations may include: high-risk warrant service,
hostage rescue, building searches for dangerous suspects, the apprehension of armed/barricaded
suspects and the tracking of, and search for, escaped prisoners or violent criminals.
The Tactical Operations Unit has the ability to conduct operations in both rural and urban areas.
Selected personnel assigned to the unit are trained for and are required to respond to incidents
involving the disposal of hazardous devices and explosives.
The Tactical Operations Unit is also responsible for providing law enforcement support to all
components of the Sheriff's Office upon request. This includes: dignitary protection,
DUI enforcement, burglary suppression patrols, surveillance operations,
marijuana eradication activities, warrant service, clandestine drug lab seizures, civil process
service, witness protection, court security and conducting training for law enforcement personnel.
T.O.U. is a primary responder for natural disasters, civil and jail disturbances, incidents
involving mass casualties and emergency situations at the Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant. The
unit also assists the Lake Patrol Division during underwater search and recovery operations in
During the past three years, the Tactical Operations Unit has responded to more than 300
tactical situations. All were resolved without serious injury to citizens, officers or criminals.
The majority of the tactical responses involved armed suspects, drug offenders, mentally impaired
individuals and/or domestic violence situations.
T.O.U. has been very successful in utilizing negotiation techniques and specialized equipment to resolve these incidents
peacefully. On occasion, suspects of violent crimes have also barricaded themselves in a building in an attempt to evade
capture. The unit is prepared to deal with these incidents effectively and with great emphasis on safety.
The Sheriff's Office recognizes that the citizens of Maricopa County expect that high priority be given to situations
which create a high risk to them. In addition, tactical capability is an important part of any professional law enforcement
agency. The primary goal of the Tactical Operations Unit is to reduce or eliminate risk to the public by being prepared to
respond to a wide variety of tactical situations. A dedicated, advanced tactical capability reduces liability and
minimizes negative citizen perception when force must be used to protect life.
T.O.U. members are equipped with readily deployable equipment that includes: unmarked patrol vehicles with
specialized communications equipment, special protective clothing, highly protective body armor, bullet resistant
helmets, self-contained breathing apparatus, distraction devices, gas masks, tear gas, less-lethal munitions,
submachine guns, night vision devices, precision sniper rifles, door openers, high angle rescue equipment, bullet
resistant shields and specialty breaching explosives. Other equipment such as hostage communications equipment,
attic search lights and camera, extra body armor for trapped person evacuations, an extensive medical trauma first
aid kit, night surveillance devices and other specialized equipment are transported to the scene in a specially
The unit also utilizes armored vehicles to provide protection when entering hostile zones. One of the vehicles
is a customized 1990 V-150S "Commando" received through the Arizona Counter Drug Procurement Program at no cost.
Several of the department's paramedics regularly respond with the team to provide advanced life support within the inner
perimeter. Additionally, two of the team members are emergency medical technicians. Fire departments and ambulance services
will not respond to render emergency medical aid at the scene of an unstable tactical incident. Therefore, the team must be
prepared to render as much medical assistance as possible until medical personnel can safely enter the area.
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