Chicago Police DepartmentSpecial Order S03-04-02
Helicopter Support for Department Operations
Issue Date:30 May 2014Effective Date:30 May 2014
Rescinds:23 August 2007 Version
Index Category:Field Operations
I.Purpose
This directive informs Department members of:
  • A.helicopter support capabilities for Department operations.
  • B.procedures for requesting a:
    • 1.Chicago Police Department (CPD) helicopter;
    • 2.Chicago Fire Department (CFD) Air/Sea Rescue Unit helicopter;
    • 3.United States Coast Guard (USCG) helicopter.
II.General Information
  • A.The CPD Helicopter Operation is available in Chicago and throughout Cook County in a joint City of Chicago/County of Cook Helicopter Task Force designed to provide air support to law enforcement agencies within Cook County. This task force consists of members of the Chicago Police Department Marine/Helicopter Unit and the Cook County Sheriffs Police.
  • B.The CPD Helicopter Operation and the CFD Air/Sea Rescue Unit are based at Iroquois Landing in the City of Chicago Hangar. The USCG Helicopters are based in Michigan.
  • C.Radio Communications
    • 1.The CPD Helicopter radio call numbers are Police Helicopter One and Police Helicopter Two; however, PCAD recognizes the units as Police Helicopter 1 (PH1) and Police Helicopter 2 (PH2). These unit numbers are to be used by police dispatch whenever applicable PCAD operations apply.
    • 2.The radio call number for the CFD Air/Sea Rescue Unit helicopter is 682.
    • 3.USCG helicopters are equipped with marine band radios and do not have CPD radio capabilities. All contact will be relayed through the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) dispatcher.
  • D.When airborne, the CPD helicopter is capable of responding to most Chicagoland locations within minutes. However, take-off and response times are contingent upon a variety of factors, including weather restrictions.
  • E.Units will be notified through the Administrative Message Center (AMC) of the hours of operation and availability of the CPD helicopter.
  • F.The CPD helicopter is equipped with video surveillance equipment.
  • G.The CFD Air/Sea Rescue Unit helicopter will normally provide air support only for operations that involve the rescue of persons.
  • H.The USCG helicopter can provide marine-related air support when:
    • 1.the CPD Marine/Helicopter Unit needs assistance, and
    • 2.the CFD Air/Rescue Unit helicopter is unavailable.
III.CPD Helicopter Operation Support Functions
  • A.When requested, CPD helicopters can respond to support ground units for incidents that include:
    • 1.threats involving the use of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive agents;
    • 2.searches for fleeing felons;
    • 3.vehicle pursuits;
    • 4.missing persons;
    • 5.specialized surveillance for:
      • a.Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) incidents;
      • b.locations designated as critical facilities;
      • c.narcotics enforcement operations;
      • d.identified violence zones; and
      • e.hazardous material dumping.
    • 6.preplanned events such as:
      • a.crowd-control observations;
      • b.aerial photography;
      • c.surveillance at major sporting and entertainment venues; and
      • d.dignitary protection details.
  • B.The CPD helicopter does not have rescue capabilities and is not intended to be used for such operations. Emergency rescue situations are the responsibility of the Chicago Fire Department.
IV.Procedures to Obtain Helicopter Support
  • A.Chicago Police Helicopter Operations
    • 1.Immediate Response During Hours of Operation
      • a.During normal hours of operation, requests for the CPD helicopter will be made through the OEMC dispatcher by a field supervisor.
      • b.If the CPD helicopter is unavailable, the Commanding Officer, (or designee), Marine/Helicopter Unit, will notify OEMC and the requesting unit.
    • 2.Delayed Response or Immediate Response Not During Hours of Operation
      • a.Requests for the CPD helicopter during hours it is not staffed can be made through the Crime Prevention and Information Center (CPIC) by any sworn supervisor.
      • b.CPIC will notify the Chief, Special Functions Division and the Commanding Officer, Marine/Helicopter Unit (or designee), of the request for the CPD helicopter.
      • c.When the Commanding Officer, Marine/Helicopter Unit (or designee), receives notification of the request for the dispatch of the CPD helicopter, he or she will:
        • (1)determine the availability of the CPD helicopter, and
        • (2)notify the Chief, Special Functions Division whether the CPD helicopter is available.
      • d.After receiving the notification from the Commanding Officer, Marine/Helicopter Unit (or designee), the Chief, Special Functions Division will notify CPIC and the OEMC dispatcher of their approval of the request for the CPD helicopter.
    • 3.Response for Preplanned Events
      Request for a CPD helicopter for a preplanned event will be made by supervisory personnel via a To-From-Subject report, through the chain of command, to The Chief, Bureau of Patrol, Attention: Chief, Special Functions Division. The To-From-Subject Report will include the following information:
      • a.Requesting supervisors name, star number, and unit;
      • b.Type of event;
      • c.Exact location, date, and time of event; and
      • d.The primary objective of the use/mission of the helicopter.
    • 4.Upon approval, the Commanding Officer, Marine/Helicopter Unit, will contact the requesting unit and arrange an air support mission.
  • B.Chicago Fire Department Air/Sea Rescue Unit
    • 1.The CFD rescue helicopter can be requested through the OEMC dispatcher by a sworn supervisor.
    • 2.The OEMC dispatcher will immediately notify the Chief, Special Functions Division of the exact location where CFD helicopter assistance is required and the nature of the incident.
    • 3.The OEMC dispatcher will relay that the Chief, Special Functions Division was notified and the call number designation of the responding CFD helicopter to the requesting field supervisor.
  • C.United States Coast Guard helicopter
    • 1.A USCG helicopter can be requested:
      • a.via OEMC by members of the Marine/Helicopter Unit when the CPD Marine/Helicopter Unit needs additional air assistance.
      • b.by OEMC after a request by a sworn supervisor to dispatch the CFD rescue helicopter and the CFD rescue helicopter is unavailable.
    • 2.The OEMC dispatcher will:
      • a.immediately notify the Chief, Special Functions Division of the exact location where USCG helicopter assistance is required and the nature of the incident.
      • b.relay to the requesting supervisor that the Chief, Special Functions Division was notified and the USCG helicopter is responding because the CFD helicopter is unavailable.
      • c.ensure necessary communication is facilitated between the USCG helicopter, the requesting supervisor, and assisting ground units.
V.Reporting Procedures
Whenever a CPD helicopter, the CFD Air/Sea Rescue Unit helicopter, or a USCG helicopter responds to a call for service, the requesting unit will:
  • A.note the response of the helicopter in the narrative of the appropriate case report and:
  • B.forward the copy of the case report to the Chief, Bureau of Patrol.
Authenticated by: JKH
Garry F. McCarthy
Superintendent of Police
14-048 CMW