Harker Heights Air Unit
The Harker Heights Police Department shares a multiagency police helicopter with the Temple and Killeen Police Departments. The helicopter is a Military Surplus OH-6 (Light Observation Helicopter/Hughes 500 equivalent), operated with a C-18 turbine engine and a 4 bladed main rotor system. The primary purpose of the police helicopter is to have an eye in the sky, a law-enforcement presence, capable of limited backup for officers on the street, quick response to crimes in progress directing law enforcement to the scene as well as observing criminal elements fleeing the area and directing law enforcement officers to intercept. Instrumental in vehicle and foot pursuits, search and rescue, tracking traffic, and quickly observing traffic violations, disturbances and crimes while directing ground units to traffic accidents, or cordoning off areas as needed for safety, as well as searching areas directed by law enforcement units on the ground.
The police helicopter has a Night Sun search spotlight mounted on the side of the aircraft, capable of illuminating a city block from 1000 feet above ground level, and able to pin point focus the search beam to a smaller more intense beam if necessary. Currently the aircraft does not have its own infrared device, however, a hand held infra red device can be used which is available for use from the Killeen and Temple Police Departments. The aircraft is modified for night vision goggle use, and the Unit is currently assessing cost of acquiring and maintaining the current level of advanced night vision systems.
The Harker Heights Police Department has one pilot, which operates the helicopter for all agencies. Along with 8 tactical flight officers; also known as police observers who monitor other aircraft traffic, obstacles, including towers and wires, communicate on the police radio, encompassing coordinating with Bell County Communication Center and ground units, operate the search light and navigate various streets of the cities as well as county streets.
The Air Unit is currently attached to the Harker Heights Traffic Division to accommodate a flexible schedule for its use. The aircraft primarily does air patrol on weekend evenings and nights and is available by callout request 7 days a week.