IACP Leadership in Police Aviation Award

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IACP Leadership in Police Aviation Award

The IACP Leadership in Police Aviation Award recognizes public safety individuals and agencies that exemplify excellence in airborne law enforcement operations for both manned and unmanned aircraft operations in the law enforcement community

Applications are now open

Visit the awards nomination site to start your application.

This award emphasizes initiatives that enhance general safety operations, accident prevention programs, and the efficiency and effectiveness of airborne law enforcement.

Nominations Close April 15

For further information, contact awards@theiacp.org

2020 Winners


Chula Vista, California, Police Department

Chula VIsta

Chula Vista Police Department’s Drone as a First Responder (DFR) program is a remote piloting, geo-fencing, and pro-active use of drones to respond to emergencies. Innovatively, the remote-operated drones are deployed from fixed locations to proactively respond to calls for service with the goal of arriving on scene prior to patrol units and live-streaming video of the incident. The implementation of the DFR program has enhanced aviation safety and police aviation operation safety in Chula Vista. Upon successful implementation, the department has established a public dashboard that shows drone related activity to demonstrate that police drone operations are a resource for good and helps keep communities safe. Through this innovative and transparent drone program, agency leaders have taken the initiative to collaborate with other agencies to help establish robust drone aviation programs of their own.


Gary Hill
Special Agent in Charge
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

Gary Hill

In 2016, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Gary W. Hill joined the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) Aviation Division, overseeing a fleet of nearly 100 aircraft and 135 Special Agent/Pilots. Since SAC Hill's arrival to the division, he sought effective and efficient ways to enhance safety within the division. Through SAC Hill's leadership and dedication to aviation safety, he has worked to standardize the aircraft fleet, eliminated single-person offices, expanded the use of Special Agents/Pilots, enhanced efficiency of training programs and aircraft maintenance, and led the division to hold the IS-BAO SMS Stage III Certification. Stage III certification is the highest level achievable, showing an agency has instituted, maintained, and documented a Safety Management System (SMS) program and is continuing to expand through daily operations. SAC Hill's commitment and role within the DEA's Aviation Division has influenced change within the division to maximize operational efficiency and safety.

2019 Winners

Texas Department of Public Safety, Aircraft Operations Division
Texas DPS

The Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS) Aircraft Division provides excellent service through their top-to-bottom “safety first” approach, intensive training, state of the art equipment, constant commitment to excellence in the air, and recognition from The Texas Department of Transportation – Flight Services for superior aircraft maintenance. The TDPS utilizes dedicated training staff for the aircraft division, a chain of command that ensures transparency, best practices for training and development, and cooperation and shared knowledge between various agencies. Along with initial and annual training, each crew member is given an annual in-house check ride by a qualified and experienced training captain in both rotor and fixed wing aircraft. This allows the Aircraft Division to further the Texas Department of Public Safety’s mission - to protect and serve Texas.

2018 Winners


Michigan State Police, Aviation Unit

The Michigan State Police Aviation Unit provides exceptional service by making it easier for officers to access aviation assets, expanding the mission set of the Aviation Unit, educating law enforcement professionals around the state, embracing new technology, and providing well-trained and properly equipped air crews for assignments. This is accomplished by using a mix of experienced schedulers, maintainers, pilots, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) operators, and Tactical Flight Officers (TFO). The MSP Aviation Unit is the first police agency in the country with the capability to transmit live video images via satellite to a secure internet connection to internet enabled devices. Their UAS program was the first with a statewide Certificate of Authentication (COA), the first to gain approval to operate in Class B, C, and D Airspace, and the first to operate two flyers with ‘in air replacement’ capability. The MSP Aviation Unit’s safety record is unmatched, and they are a leader in terms of UAS mission utilization.


Cory Frank
Senior Officer/Air Support Safety Officer

Cory Frank

Senior Police Officer and Air Support Safety Officer Cory Frank has been a dedicated member of the Houston Police Department Air Support Unit in Texas for the past 26 years. The Air Support Division is a valued resource of the Houston Police Department, as it supports ground units in search-and-rescue and traffic control year-round. The aircraft and equipment used to complete the mission are extremely technical and require a dedicated Safety Officer to oversee the Unit’s safety practices.  Officer Frank plans, implements, and coordinates safety and environmental programs in accordance with written regulations, procedures, and policies. Officer Frank has served in the Safety Officer position for the past nine years. Recently, the Air Support Unit received recognition from the Helicopter Manufacture MD for over 200,000 flight hours without any aircraft accidents. This is a direct reflection of the safety oversight and guidance provided by Officer Frank. Senior Police Officer Frank is highly respected and accomplished, with over 4,000 hours as pilot in command, and has received many accolades from his peers and supervisors.

2017 Winner

Seminole County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office

Seminole County sits just north of Orlando, Florida and is home to a little under 450,000 residents. The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) Aviation Section is responsible for providing air support within the county and provides service for several other city police agencies within the service area. 

In today’s operations, the agency has a mission profile that continues to diversify in what they provide the county, but mainly focuses on supporting patrol operations. The unit also offers firefighting capability and the only SWAT deployment and hoist rescue ability in the Orlando metro area. In 2016 the unit delivered 128 water drops on wildfires in and around Seminole County. Within the first six months of 2017, the unit had already been called to make 276 drops. One of these fires was in April 2017, near the Chuluota area of Seminole County where wildfires directly threatened a large housing development. Due to the water drops from the assigned unit, no homes were lost in the fire and no personnel were injured. 

In 2016, the unit located 150 persons and 118 of those persons were located using the thermal camera. In two major 2017 cases, an officer involved in a shooting and a stolen vehicle crash with multiple fatalities, the aircrew’s work and camera footage were used to detail the actions of involved law enforcement units. 

The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office Aviation Section has worked to maximize efficiency, safety, and customer support since its inception. The unit members make great efforts in training and continuing education to make sure they are delivering the best possible service to the community. Unit members are motivated to find new and innovative ways to deliver the most professional public safety aviation services possible.

Today the SCSO Aviation Section prides itself in not only meeting, but setting the standard in law enforcement aviation. The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office has a goal to embrace not only their efforts to provide transparency to the public, but in their air unit’s efforts to constantly look for ways to improve their safety practices and strive to find more ways to improve their operations.





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