LANCASTER – In a press release issued Friday, the City announced plans to launch an aerial law enforcement surveillance system that could be deployed by early Spring of 2012. The matter will go before the City Council Tuesday.
“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 Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “Now, thanks to Aero View, our Sheriff’s Department will have access to a system which enables them to be more proactive and responsive to law enforcement needs throughout our entire City.”
The Lancaster-based firm, Aero View, LLC created the Law Enforcement Aerial Platform System (LEAPS), which couples a Cessna 172 with optical equipment, into a system developed and engineered by Spiral Technology, Inc.
LEAPS is billed as a low maintenance, fuel-efficient, low noise product, which will be fueled, maintained, and hangared at Fox Field in Lancaster.
“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 exactly the type of boost we need to our local economy.”
The value of the system components, including the plane and optical equipment, is estimated at $1.3 Million, and will become City assets.
However, no operational funding will be required in Fiscal Year 2011-2012, because 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 will be considered by the City Council Tuesday.
“When we met with the City and Sheriff’s Department, we wanted to come away with a thorough understanding of the needs in this community, and find a way to meet them within pre-defined budget constraints,” said Aero View President Steve Mc Carter. “We have successfully accomplished this with LEAPS.”
Lancaster Sheriff’s Station Captain Bob Jonsen says the capabilities of LEAPS will enable law enforcement teams to be more effective in fighting crime in Lancaster.
“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.”
The system will follow existing law enforcement and citizen privacy protocol, as already established by the Sheriff’s Department. The Sheriff’s Department will have complete control over the data, surveillance and operation of the Law Enforcement Aerial Platform System, and only assigned LASD personnel will be privy to the information and video transmitted from the aircraft. The imagery recorded by the system will be 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 in order to ensure that citizen privacy rights are protected.
Additionally, LEAPS will allow the Sheriff’s Department to quickly access up to two years worth of video data.
“Public safety has always been priority number one for this Council,” said Parris. “We have worked closely with the Sheriff’s Department over the past four years to ensure we do everything to stomp out crime. Now, the Sheriff’s Department will have an aerial advantage to add to their arsenal.”
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.
Upon approval from the Lancaster City Council, implementation of the City of Lancaster/Aero View LLC agreement will begin, and the first LEAPS model will be developed and deployed in Lancaster in early Spring of 2012.
Parris and representatives from Aero View, LLC will present details of the aerial public safety surveillance system during a special presentation at the next City Council meeting at 5 p.m., Tuesday, November 8th at Lancaster City Hall. Approval of the Acquisition and Management Agreement between the City and Aero View, LLC will be recommended to the Lancaster City Council following the presentation.