After many years losing aviation assets, Indiana State Police announce purchase of a new Bell 407GXP that will begin units return to providing high level of airborne response.
The Indiana State Police (ISP) has a rich history in providing airborne law enforcement to the people of the State of Indiana for over 50 years. The agency’s aviation section commenced operations in 1947, and like many agencies, ISP’s aviation section has seen some cut-backs over the years. The fleet in the mid 2000’s consisted of several helicopters and multiple fixed wing aircraft placed around the state that included a Beechcraft King Air 200 purchased in 2001 used to transport the Governor of Indiana on official business. The agency’s current fleet of two fixed wing aircraft and one helicopter, now one heavier on the rotary side, now doubled with the arrival of a brand new Bell 407GXP that went into service March 17th, 2018 after acceptance by ISP from Bell helicopter at the company’s completion center in Piney Flats, Tennessee before being flown back to begin work in Indiana.
The announcement of ISP’s newest air asset, the first helicopter purchased in over twenty five years by ISP was made at the agency’s aviation section hangar, located at Indianapolis international airport during a ceremony officiated by ISP Superintendent Doug Carter. In attendance at the ceremony to celebrate the new aircraft arrival were multiple retired and current troopers assigned to the aviation section. During the event, a large display stretched out around the hangar that detailed the history of aviation section and its pilots throughout its years of operation. Among the retired pilots in attendance was Don Merchant, who served with the State Police from 1956-1976, and was one of the first pilots to serve in the newly formed Indiana State Police Aviation Section during its first decade of operation. Merchant reminisced of his time with the aviation section, recalling fondly his initial helicopter training conducted at the Bell Helicopter in Arlington, Texas. Merchant also marveled at the leaps and bounds achieved in the capabilities of the modern rotary aircraft compared to those he flew over forty years prior. “It’s my opinion that the State Police have really got something (good) here now with this,” he stated, referring to the shiny new Bell 407GXP behind him. “This will be a big asset to be used to serve the people of Indiana.” Merchant continued.
ISP Superintendent Carter was all smiles as he mingled with troopers and others in attendance during the event. The addition of the Bell 407GXP seen as a proud day for the agency and what Carter calls “a real game changer”. “In the last few years, the agency has seen multiple instances where the use of rotorcraft such as this new 407GXP could have saved lives, including the death of a 78 year old man who suffered from hypothermia and passed away before he could be found.” According to Carter, the availability of additional helicopter assets could have increased the possibility of saving that life and many more. “What’s a life worth?” he asked, in reference to the cost of the new 407GXP “A hell of a lot more than six million dollars, so here we are.“ he stated, demonstrating his steadfast devotion to improving the response capabilities of the Indiana State Police.
Improving an agency is something Carter is no stranger to, prior to his appointment to the position of Superintendent of the Indiana State Police, Carter was the Sheriff of Hamilton County, Indiana, serving two terms from 2003-2010 where he led the charge in the modernization of Hamilton County’s Justice Complex that included an all new dispatch center that combined all of the county’s law enforcement and fire agency’s dispatch centers, also spearheading improvements to the county’s communications network that saw improved communications capabilities for officers and deputies in Hamilton County that had been long plagued with radio communications issues.
The new Bell 407GXP is now the most advanced aircraft in the agency’s fleet, joining a Bell 206L3 that was refurbished in 2016 with upgrades including a Garmin G650, NVG compatible cockpit, L3 MX-10 and TrakkaBeam spotlight. Indiana State Police Director of Aviation, David Ruegsegger, stated that the new aircraft, including the capability of being able to tap into multiple police radio frequencies, a video downlink, an L3 MX-10, Lo-Jack system and TrakkaBeam spotlight mirroring the equipment in refurbished Bell 206L3. Ruesegger also demonstrated the 407GXP’s glass cockpit, noting its selection based on the workload it takes off the pilot compared to traditional steam guage cockpits.
The need for air support in police agencies is currently on the rise, Indiana’s new Bell 407GXP will go a long way to increasing statewide response from ISP to major incidents as well as being a force multiplier when needed for fast moving and dynamic situations as they happen. The new helicopter when assigned to calls will also decrease the need for ground officers or alternately, thanks to the addition of the onbaord MX-10, be an overhead set of eyes to prevent the possibility of ambush situation. The Indiana State Police hopes to continue improving the assets of the aviation section, and are hoping to add additional helicopters to the fleet as funding becomes available.
“We were the aviation experts in Indiana at one point,” Superintendent Carter stated, “And I promise you were are going to be again. It starts today.”
To watch a video on the arrival of the Indiana State Police avition section Bell 407GXP, click the video link below.