Metro Airborne Law Enforcement for St. Louis, Mo.
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Protecting The Home Front

Because of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Metro Air Support has expanded its responsibilities in patrolling the entire Metropolitan Area in an effort to protect citizens and their property. This broadening effort has dramatically increased the daily financial burdens incurred by the air support unit. The use of the military surplus aircraft has allowed the unit to continue its low operating costs through the acquisition of spare parts. However, the pool of Vietnam Era aircraft parts is rapidly depleting.

Our increased mission responsibilities have put the benefit of aerial law enforcement to the forefront. In addition, we continue to provide our services to agencies outside our own at no expense to the requesting agency. Metro Air Support now has the additional task of patrolling areas deemed by the Department of Homeland Security as “targets of opportunity” for terrorist attack. Bridges, critical infrastructure, historical landmarks, power plants, economically critical businesses, defense contractors and stadiums have been added to the daily patrol activities of our crews.

Metro Air Support Unit’s Mission for the New Century

  • Search and Rescue: Water and High-Rise
  • Special Response Team Transport:
    • Disaster Medical Teams
    • Underwater Search and Recovery Teams
    • Special Weapons and Tactics Teams
    • Civil Disturbance – Tactical Response Elements
    • Marijuana and Methamphetamine Eradication Teams
  • Mobile Command Post and Surveillance
  • Patrol
  • Regional Mutual Aid for all Missions

The St. Louis Metropolitan, St. Louis County Police Department, and St. Charles County Sheriff's Department Metro Air Support unit conducts a varied range of assignments throughout a year. Our primary mission is to provide an aerial platform to assist the officers riding beats. Our operations include providing a means to increase officer safety, suspect searches, locating lost children and adults, a rapid response to criminal activities in progress and covert surveillance. In addition, we provide the region’s only water and high-rise rescue aerial resource. During the Flood of 1993, the unit conducted numerous rescues of those stranded in rising floodwaters and provided an airborne command and control vehicle to Police, Fire, EMS, and federal emergency management resources. The unit provides aerial support to tactical missions and provides the capability to deliver tactical teams to rooftops and rappel entries.

Metro Air Support conducts hundreds of displays, demonstrations and tours of the equipment, capabilities, facilities and resources at its disposal. Some of these activities include:

Static Displays

  • St. Louis County Fair and Air Show
  • Student Summer Camps
  • National Night Out Assemblies
  • Boy and Girl Scouts of America Events
  • Vehicle Fairs
  • Department Resource Displays
  • Young Eagle Events and Other Aviation Youth Groups
  • Church Events
  • Charity Events
  • Summer Camps
  • Senior Citizen Functions
  • D.A.R.E. and Citizens Police Academy Graduations
  • Backstoppers

Rescue Demonstrations

  • St. Louis County Fair and Air Show
  • Museum of Transportation

Make-A-Wish Foundation

Hangar Tours

  • Boy and Girl Scouts of America
  • Numerous Schools
  • Church Organizations

Metro Services

Metro Air Support provides its services to the entire Eastern Missouri and Western Illinois region at no cost to the requesting agency. Metro Air Support’s equipment, capabilities and personnel are viewed by an estimated 11,000 people annually at the events scheduled. Approximately 4,000 children between the ages of 4 and 18 attend these displays.

2010 Totals

  • Schools - 32
  • Businesses - 18
  • Cub Scouts - 14
  • Charitable Organizations - 48
  • Flyover Events – 16

Public/Private Partnership

With these added missions come the increased expense in operation and dramatic increase in demands for service. Issues of age, parts availability and aircraft performance made it clear that replacement patrol and rescue helicopters must be acquired.

In order to continue the tradition of high-quality service from the air, the St. Louis County and Metropolitan Police Departments, along with the St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department carefully researched the options. Schweizer 300C and MD530F’s were identified as the most affordable aircraft with the necessary performance. The three agencies support a search, rescue, patrol and disaster response system that consists of more than 100 communities. In addition, the Metro Air Support Unit responds to searches, rescues, law enforcement mission, and disasters regionally at the request of federal, state and local agencies. As felt throughout the law enforcement community nationwide, budget issues continue to focus on high output operations. Fuel costs have increased dramatically since September 11. Our aircraft have reached more than 10,000 operational hours each, some dating back as far as 1968. With new aircraft, our operating costs will decline as expensive engine overhauls and parts replacement will have not reached their operational time limits.

Air Support Equipment/Crew: Training and Experience

6 Helicopters:

3 MD500E’s (1985, 1987, 2009 Models); 3 Hughes OH-6A (1968 Models)

1 Airplane:

Cessna R-172E (1967 Model); ex-Air Force Military trainer (T-41B)

9 Pilots:

Our pilots are selected from a pool of qualified city and county officers, who have a combined total of more than 16,000 flight hours of highly stressful law enforcement aviation missions.

All pilots undergo annual factory recurrency and quarterly training in rescue techniques and helicopter emergency procedures.