Aerotech NewsRadio hosted live interview about the new Law Enforcement Aerial Platform System (LEAPS) Aug. 30.
LEAPS began its 365-day contract between the City of Lancaster, Aeroview LLC. And Spiral Technology Inc. Aug. 24.
In studio to talk about the system were President of Spiral Technology, Archie Moore, Deputy Mike Rust from the Lancaster Sheriff’s Department and Public Safety Manager for the City of Lancaster, Lee D’errico.
Moore explained that LEAPS was created by integrating technology that has typically only been accessed by the Department of Defense into an affordable format for the City of Lancaster. Moore added that it will provide a “situational awareness that they’ve never had before.”
The aircraft is a Cessna 172 that has been equipped with a video surveillance system that operates both the in the visible and infrared spectrums. Moore described the Cessna 172 as a “very reliable airplane” that is “simply something to carry the camera.”
The camera is operated by a dispatcher from the sheriff’s department in Lancaster, Calif., and the pilot is never given access to any of the video feed. All of the data collected by the LEAPS software is sent in an encrypted form to the sheriff’s department where it is kept on file in compliance with evidentiary laws.
Rust explained that the system is actually very simple to operate.
“Within an hour [a deputy is] comfortable using this system.” Moore added that, “working with the sheriff’s department and the city of Lancaster has been truly rewarding. It’s a great team, that’s why the system has turned out as effective and easy to use as it has been.”
According to D’errico, Mayor of Lancaster R. Rex Parris had been working on a surveillance project for quite some time when Spiral Technology made their proposal. When Spiral’s proposal was submitted last November, it was a “slam dunk” decision to use the local, veteran-owned company.
“The potential is almost limitless,” said Rust. He went on to explain that the system can be used for search and rescue, which in the past has been handled only by ground units. It may also be used to detect a fire long before it has been reported. This would save the taxpayers “millions of dollars” in damages.
“The scariest thing that we deal with in law enforcement is the unknown,” said Rust, “this is huge as far as officer safety goes.” LEAPS will allow the Sheriff’s department to visually assess a situation prior to sending officers to the scene of an incident and therefore more effectively use the resources they have.
According to Rust, LEAPS proved to be effective in this area when the sheriff’s department received a call reporting a large fight with adults and minors at Eastside Park. Rust explained that because the response has to be based on the caller’s description of the situation, the normal response is to send out several ground units with lights and sirens as well as several with no lights and sirens for back up.
With LEAPS the sheriff’s department was able to see that it was just an after-school fight among a few students and the extra backup is not necessary. Ultimately it frees up the extra deputy’s to respond to other situations and improve the use of “manpower.”
The LEAPS system performs its normal operations at an altitude of 3,000 feet and may drop to 1,500 feet for a clearer image. According to Moore the surveillance system is capable of zooming in enough to recognize what kind of clothes people are wearing although there is no facial recognition. There is currently only one LEAPS aircraft that will patrol 10 hours per day and eventually the City of Lancaster and the Sheriff’s Department would like to acquire more.
For the rest of the story visit www.aerotechnews.com. Aerotech NewsRadio is weekly program broadcasting live on Thursday mornings at 11 a.m. Tune into 1380 AM to hear the show live.