SPD’s flight crew, led by Smith — who holds airline transport pilot and certified flight instructor certificates in single and multi-engine airplanes, and a commercial pilot certificate in gyroplanes — logged 138 flight hours and flew more than 4,000 miles between April and July.
Smith has nearly 2,100 flight hours logged in 23 different types of aircraft since 2002. He is the second law enforcement officer in the United States to become a Certified Flight Instructor specific to gyroplanes for police operations.
The flight crew conducted aerial patrols, assisted patrol units with radio calls, monitored traffic flows during special events, and conducted surveillance and inspection of critical infrastructure owned by Somerset — including the 149 miles of natural gas pipeline, which runs from Virginia to Casey County.
The crews also identified several suspicious vehicles and assisted on radio calls that resulted in seven arrests. Two of those arrests were for DUI, and others were for drug violations and for outstanding warrants.
Smith said the flight crew assisted on a tense domestic violence report at a residence on West Ky. 80 — and he said their vantage point from the air helped him to relay information to officers on the ground and keep them safe.
“That’s one of those that I’m probably as proud of as any,” Smith said. “We were at the right place at the right time.”
The subject of the call was reported to be armed, and Smith said he was able to spot the suspect as he fled the apartment and made his way around the building.
Smith said he was able to communicate with officers on the ground about where to go in order to remain as safe as possible since the suspect was armed.
The flight crews’ assistance with a variety of calls, along with the need to ensure infrastructure safety, helped SPD decide to secure an aircraft of their own once the trial period ended.