The Air Patrol is an all volunteer organization of pilots that provides aviation support services for the Marin County Sheriff’s Office. Currently there are 20 members.
It is a division of the Sheriff’s Office Field Service Bureau. (https://www.marinsheriff.org/about-us/field-service-bureau/air-patrol).
The principle users are the Major Crimes Task Force (MCTF), the Office of Emergency Services (OES) and Search and Rescue (SAR). Other agencies have also been supported, for example San Rafael PD, the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency and the US Postal Service.
Typical missions include:
Aerial support for investigations (in coordination with ground units)
Photography in support of criminal or fire investigations
Aerial support at ongoing crime scenes (perimeter establishment, photography, evidence search )
Search and rescue (in coordination with SAR)
Patrol Flights are conducted in support of the Patrol Division and the Air Patrol has also provided transportation for Sheriff’s and SAR personnel.
In addition the AirPatrol works with the Office of Emergency Services (OES) in planning for Air support in the event of a major disaster.
All missions are conducted with two pilots and for investigations a deputy is also on board for coordination with ground units.
In many cases operations are conducted in San Francisco Bravo or Charlie airspace which requires coordination with Oakland Center, Norcal or local Towers.
Requests for service can occur at any time. One member is designated as a Mission Coordinator (rotates monthly). Following a request for service the Mission Coordinator is responsible for contacting members from a roster of available pilots and assembling the flight crew.
The Air Patrol operates a 1977 Cessna 182Q. The aircraft was refurbished in 2017 which included a new engine, paint and an avionics upgrade.
Avionics include a MERA (Law enforcement) radio for communications with ground units and county dispatch and, individual Audio panels for each station (Pilot, Co-Pilot and Deputy).
The aircraft also has a loud hailer which has a broadcast range in the air of about 2 miles.
The plane is maintained in accordance with FAA regulations using licensed mechanics. It is based in a hangar at Gnoss Field which includes an office with Wi-Fi.