LANCASTER, CA. August 23, 2012 — The City of Lancaster and Lancaster-based Aero View LLC today launched a new aerial law enforcement surveillance system which will be added to the City’s arsenal of crime-fighting tools. Employee- and veteran-owned Aero View LLC created the Law Enforcement Aerial Platform System (LEAPS) to help law enforcement agencies become more effective at keeping neighborhoods safe. The system is operational in the skies over Lancaster.
“Public safety is priority number one,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris. “LEAPS will fulfill many needs and expectations from a crime-reduction standpoint, by both enhancing operations and deterring criminal activity.”
The City of Lancaster realized more than a 42% reduction in crime from 2008 to the end of 2011. However, the crime rate has recently fluctuated, emphasizing the need for having this aerial system which will further stabilize the Sheriff’s efforts to keep Lancaster’s crime rate down.
Mayor Parris was persistent in pursuing an affordable aerial surveillance technology for law enforcement in Lancaster, believing it would not only further reduce crime in Lancaster, but could also provide law enforcement agencies nationwide with a model and tool which will benefit their public safety efforts.
Lancaster Sheriff’s Station Captain Bob Jonsen says the LEAPS will provide a bird’s eye view of activity and circumstances law enforcement teams simply can’t always assess from ground level. It will also enhance responsiveness in emergency situations, such as fires, earthquakes and natural disasters which require aerial assistance.
“From a public safety perspective, LEAPS can follow a criminal target via visual movement at altitudes ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 feet above ground level, while using both visible and infrared images for tracking,” said Jonsen. “It is an effective and economical resource offering superior surveillance, patrol and investigative capabilities.”
LEAPS is also unique in that it is the first aircraft system of its kind offering such an economical value, while ensuring citizen privacy. The system follows all existing law enforcement and citizen privacy protocol, as already established by the Sheriff’s Department. Additionally, the Sheriff’s Department will have complete control over the data, surveillance and operation of the system, and only assigned LASD personnel will be privy to the information and video transmitted from the aircraft. The imagery recorded by the system is encrypted and fed directly to the Sheriff’s station, not being viewed or retained at any point by the aircraft, the pilot, or the City. This ensures that citizen privacy rights are protected and upheld to the same letter of the law which currently exists.
Another benefit of LEAPS is that it allows the Sheriff’s Department to quickly access up to two years of video data. If a crime goes unreported, then is later discovered, case-relevant activity footage may have been transmitted by LEAPS, thus providing evidentiary data for the Sheriff’s Department.
The Law Enforcement Aerial Platform System was created by Aero View LLC, and engineered and developed by Spiral Technology, Inc., another veteran-owned small business aerospace firm operating in the City of Lancaster for more than 20 years. By coupling a widely built U.S. aircraft, the Cessna 172, with relatively affordable optical equipment, Aero View is able to employ the software and engineering know-how of Spiral’s engineers to produce this uniquely effective and affordable system.
“When we met with the City and Sheriff’s Department, we wanted to come away with a thorough understanding of the unique needs of this community, and find a way to meet them within pre-defined budget constraints,” said Aero View LLC President Steve Mc Carter. “We believe we have successfully accomplished this with LEAPS.”
The Law Enforcement Aerial Platform System is a low maintenance, fuel-efficient, low noise product which is fueled, maintained, and hangared at William J. Fox Airfield in Lancaster. The value of the system components and integration, including the plane and optical equipment, is estimated at $1.3 million, and are City assets.
The first 12 months of service and operations of LEAPS are at no cost to the City as part of the Acquisition and Management Agreement between the City of Lancaster and Aero View LLC, which was approved by the City Council on November 8, 2011.
Mayor Parris and the City have pursued development of this system since 2008. After two previous attempts to launch a successful program with other partners, the partnership between Lancaster and Aero View LLC has finally accomplished the desired vision and is expected to realize as significant an impact on economic development as it will have on public safety.
“With Aero View LLC and Spiral Technology, Inc. being headquartered here in Lancaster, the Antelope Valley will reap the benefits of both significant economic activity and jobs,” stated Mayor Parris. “This is the type of boost we need to our local economy.”
The City of Lancaster’s contractual arrangement with Aero View LLC commits future business development, design, acquisition, manufacture, assembly, sales and service operations to occur in Lancaster for a period of 10 years from the date of execution of the Agreement. With such an innovative, cost-effective system being offered to cities and counties always searching for new affordable ways to combat and prevent crime, the demand for LEAPS is projected to be high.
“For a while now, we have been pursuing development and deployment of an effective, robust and affordable aerial surveillance system for use by our Lancaster Sheriff’s Station,” said Mayor Parris. “Now, thanks to Aero View, our Sheriff’s Department has a system which enables them to be more proactive and responsive to the law enforcement and emergency needs of our City.”