Bravo to my friends and volunteer colleagues at Cote Saint-Luc volunteer Citizens on Patrol who pulled the wool over many eyes this past April 1st. As tradition would have it, a zany, outlandish information piece is sent out to members each April 1 describing some preposterous directive in the interest of “public safety”. This week’s dispatch did just that with several members getting quite excited about the “newest patrol” plan.  Way to go Lewis Cohen and Mitchell Herf, vCOP Senior Supervisors. I also shared this with my fellow City Council members and might have even got them wondering, if for just a second! Enjoy.

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vCOP Patrols Take to The Skies

Posted: April 1, 2017

 

With over 10 years of success being the “eyes and ears” for Cote Saint-Luc’s emergency services, vCOP is always looking forward to advancing its capabilities further, in order to better serve the community. Beginning April 1, vCOP will start training a select number of its members to take to the skies in its first helicopter patrols.

At the core of these patrols will be a Bell 407GX, graciously donated (and refurbished for vCOP) by Bell Helicopter of Mirabel, QC. Since none of the vCOP members are qualified pilots, the helicopter -nicknamed “vCOPTER“- will be flown by a recently retired Canadian Armed Forces pilot who holds a valid Canadian commercial helicopter license. (He also lives in CSL and will be identified as an honourary vCOP.) He has over 5000 hrs. of experience with the Bell 407GX, mostly in a search and rescue role.

 

 
Completely refurbished 407GX awaiting vCOP decal installation

We expect the vCOPTER patrols to take to the skies 2-3 days per week (weather permitting), with each patrol lasting 1.5 hrs. A maximum of 3 vCOPs (in addition to the pilot) will be permitted aboard. A vCOP radio will also be permanently installed in the vCOPTER, as well as the usual equipment. One notable change will be the addition of a Laser Guided Air-Deployable Ejected Safety Cone (LGA-DESC). This smart device allows the pilot or vCOP to directly target and drop a safety cone from the vCOPTER and have it parachute down to the ground and place it exactly at the scene of an incident, such as an open manhole cover. In addition, vCOPs will be able to better see at night by using the vCOPTER’s built-in forward-looking infra-red (FLIR) camera system. Finally, with the knowledge that these helicopters may be obtrusive and noisy when operated at low altitudes in a bedroom community, Bell Helicopter has retrofitted the vCOPTER with its new “Whisper Mode” noise-cancellation technology. (“Whisper Mode” is currently being used on the US Air Force attack helicopter, the Bell ARH-70.) Bell has informed the City of Cote Saint-Luc that the vCOPTER will be as quiet as a Hoover vacuum cleaner heard at a distance of 100ft!

 
FLIR camera on bottom of vCOPTER
 
LGA-DESC dropping safety cone at night

Training will begin this month for vCOPS interested in participating in the vCOPTER patrols. The training sessions covers airborne observation techniques, safety procedures, LGA-DESC operation, FLIR usage and parachuting techniques. Binoculars, helmets and parachutes will be provided upon completion of the in-class and in-air training.(Members should contact supervisor Susie Schwartz with their helmet and parachute sizes.) Members who successfully complete the training program will additionally receive a unique LED vCOPTER badge for their uniform. All flights will originate from a helipad (currently under construction) on top of the ACC gymnasium. Note thatdue to the helicopter pilot being observant, there will be no vCOPTER patrols on the Sabbath or Jewish holidays.

When asked about the new vCOPTER program, Councilor Glenn Nashen enthusiastically noted, “For over 10 years, we have been well-known and appreciated as the ‘eyes and ears’ of Cote Saint-Luc’s Public Safety department. Now, I’m proud to say that we’ll be the ‘eyes and ears and wingsof the city, and add yet another innovative layer of security and watchfulness for the residents.”

For more information about the vCOPTER training program, please contact supervisor Mitchell Herf (mhherf@gmail.com).

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