The City of Lancaster and Lancaster-based Aero View LLC today formally announced that the Lancaster City Council will consider adding an aerial law enforcement surveillance system to the City’s arsenal of crime-fighting tools.  Employee- and veteran-owned Aero View LLC has created a Law Enforcement Aerial Platform System (LEAPS) which will help law enforcement agencies become more effective at keeping neighborhoods safe.  The matter will go before the City Council at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, and is considered one of the most significant proposals affecting Lancaster’s ongoing war on crime.

“Public safety has always been priority number one for this Council,” said Mayor R. Rex 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.”

Recently, the City of Lancaster announced a 16% drop in its 2011 crime rate to date, in comparison to the same period last year.  By the end of 2011, the City is on target to achieve a 40% reduction in crime since 2007.  City and Sheriff’s Department officials are looking forward to utilizing the new aerial system to take their crime-fighting efforts to a higher level.

Mayor Parris has been steadfast in pursuing affordable aerial surveillance technology for law enforcement in Lancaster.  He has an unwavering belief that this will not only continue to reduce crime in Lancaster, but also provide law enforcement agencies nationwide with a model and tool which will benefit their public safety efforts; not just through more effective operations after a crime has occurred, but as a deterrent to committing crimes in the first place.

Lancaster Sheriff’s Station Captain Bob Jonsen says the capabilities of LEAPS will enable law enforcement teams to be even 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.”

LEAPS is also unique in that it is the first aircraft system of its kind offered at such an economical value, while ensuring citizen privacy.  The system follows existing law enforcement and citizen privacy protocol, as already established by the Sheriff’s Department.  Additionally, 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.  This ensures that citizen privacy rights are protected and upheld to the same letter of the law which currently exists.

Another benefit of LEAPS is that it allows the Sheriff’s Department to quickly access up to two years of video data.  If a crime goes unreported, then is later discovered, case-relevant activity footage may have been transmitted by LEAPS, thus providing evidentiary data for the Sheriff’s Department.

The Law Enforcement Aerial Platform System, was created by Aero View LLC, and engineered and developed by Spiral Technology, Inc., another veteran-owned small business aerospace firm operating in the City of Lancaster for more than 15 years.  By coupling a widely built U.S. aircraft, the Cessna 172, with relatively affordable optical equipment, Aero View is able to employ the software and engineering know-how of Spiral’s engineers to produce this uniquely effective and affordable system.

“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 LLC President Steve Mc Carter. “We have successfully accomplished this with LEAPS.”

The Law Enforcement Aerial Platform System is a low maintenance, fuel-efficient, low noise product which will be fueled, maintained, and hangared at Fox Field in Lancaster. The value of the system components, including the plane and optical equipment, is estimated at $1.3 Million, and will become City assets. 

No operational funding will be required in Fiscal Year 2011-2012, as 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.

Mayor Parris and the City have pursued development of this system since 2008.  After two previous attempts to launch a successful program with other partners, the proposed partnership between Lancaster and Aero View LLC is leagues above other pursuits and stands to realize as significant an impact on economic development as it will have on public safety.

“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 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.  With such an innovative, cost-effective system being offered to cities and counties always searching for new affordable ways to combat and prevent crime, the demand for LEAPS is projected to be high.

“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 Mayor 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.”

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.