Chambers County Sheriff’s Office Also Patrols in the Air
The Chambers County Sheriff’s Office is a small force, but a strong one. And they have something that most other agencies do not have.
A plane and a helicopter.
“Having a small agency like us and having a plane and a helicopter, I can’t say enough that it’s a dream came true,” said Chambers County Sheriff Sid Lockhart.
“We are blessed to have a Sheriff with enough foresight to understand what an aviation asset would do for the county and surrounding counties,” said Chief Deputy Richard Carter with the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office.
But, they only have one full time deputy with his pilot’s license. And that is Chief Deputy Carter.
So, the Sheriff’s Office is in the process of recruiting more pilots.
“We are not doing this for us. It’s for the guys coming up. We are building this for the next round of people,” said Chief Deputy Carter.
They use their plane to track suspects, since the plane is quieter and faster, and to pick up their prisoners with felony warrants.
They purchased the plane in 2012 from the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office,with money from their rodeo fund, pistol permits and drug seizure money. So, it was no cost to the taxpayers.
They use the helicopter for search and rescue.
They got the helicopter in 2015 when the Chilton County Sheriff’s Office decided to give it away. The helicopter previously belonged to the military.
“The helicopter helps searches like our Project Life Saver. If someone has dementia and walks off from home, we’ve looked for missing children, stolen items and more,” said Sheriff Lockhart.
Project Life Saver equips at risk individuals, like adults with dementia or kids with autism with a bracelet that acts like a tracking device. If they wander, it alerts the Sheriff’s office, and they are able to track them down.
As for the helicopter, until recently, they could only fly it during the day.
Now, new night vision equipment and an infrared system that mounts to the bottom of the aircraft, enables deputies to track a person by their body heat.
“Lets say the deputies get into a wood line, we can use the flare system or locate them through the trees with that. It give us nighttime advantages,” said Chief Deputy Carter.
A support that’s not only a service to their citizens, but one they offer to surrounding counties as well.
“It’s a huge asset for the county and other counties. We don’t charge them. We would do the same thing if they would call us to come help them in the cars. We just do it in our helicopter or airplane,” said Chief Deputy Carter.
Another way to not only keep citizens safer on the ground, but also from a bird’s eye view as well.