Part I Sworn Path to Become a Police Helicopter Pilot
To Become A Police Pilot You Must Have The Right Attitude
The aviation unit of most law enforcement agencies is considered a specialized unit, as are units such as the SWAT team, Bomb Squad, Homicide, Narcotics, etc. Apply to any specialized unit on any department in the country and you will likely come under fairly heavy scrutiny during the selection process. This is to be expected.
In addition to your knowledge of police work and any special skills you may possess, your attitude, personality, reputation and people skills are all going to be considered at some level. Every specialized unit of every agency in the country has at some time or another had a member that simply could not get along with the other members of the unit. They just have a bad attitude, personality, or people skills. When selecting a new member for a specialized police unit, they don’t want another bad apple.
I will go out on a limb and say that this is probably more true with SWAT teams and Police Aviation Units that just about any other unit. I can assure you that if you happen to get on our SWAT team and for some reason develops a bad attitude, where you can’t get along with other people in the unit, you will be gone almost instantly. There is not a SWAT commander anywhere in the country eho is going to let a problem employee stay in his unit. The police aviation unit is no different.
Police Helicopter Crew Members Must Work Together As A Unit
Both units depend heavily on the unit members being able to work together in a cohesive manner in order to safely accomplish the mission. No one wants to go into a SWAT situation with an angry team member covering their back, and no one wants to be stuck in a cockpit with an abrasive partner they can’t talk to. Additionally, these units are too small for the sergeant to be trying to work the schedule around two people who refuse to work together.
Think this is not really that important? Are you wishing I would move on to the really important stuff that is going to get you into the air unit? Develop a bad or negative reputation on most departments and you will never see the inside of the aviation unit, even if you are already a helicopter pilot.
To better illustrate my point, a police aviation unit in California was completely shut down a few years ago by the Chief, after years of in-fighting between air unit members came to a head. After an internal investigation a full one half of the unit was permanently re-assigned to patrol.
Guard Your Reputation Like A Bag of Gold
If you are a young member of a law enforcement agency and aspire to one day become part of the aviation unit, or any other specialized unit, guard your reputation like a bag of gold!
Ask yourself, are you always arguing with your sergeant, dispatch, and patrol partners? Or are you a leader who rises above the petty arguments and brings something positive to the team? Are you developing a reputation of someone who is lazy and afraid to handle certain calls, or do you have the reputation of someone who is always willing to step up to the plate, jump right in and get things done? Now as long as we’re conducting a self-evaluation this one is critical. Do you have a reputation as someone with sound judgment and good decision making abilities, or are you starting to develop a reputation of someone who is always screwing things up?
Sorry to be so blunt, but this is the cold hard truth. Before you key the mike and chastise the dispatcher for a perceived mistake, think about who is listening. It may be the aviation unit commander, whom next week you will be trying to convince that you are the perfect person for that opening he has in the air unit.