El Monte (Calif.) police officer Jose Barajas traveled to Kigali, Rwanda, earlier this year to spend 10 days training the African city's police pilots.
Barajas, a pilot officer who has flown police missions for over 12 years, has amassed close to 10,000 hours patrolling in the agency's Robinson Police R44.
Mountainess terrain, 30 degree Celsius temperatures, few maps and fewer street names are just a few of the challenges faced by the pilots in Kigali. Despite these challenges, Barajas and a team from Akagera Aviation overcame the obstacles and successfully completed the training with high standards.
The inaugural flight of "Police One" flown by Barajas and Baard took off for patrol the night of Jan. 27, 2010.
Barajas traveled on behalf of Los Angeles Helicopters' law enforcement division, which partnered with Akagera Aviation to jointly train the Kigali Police Department's new airborne unit.
Akagera recently purchased a new Robinson R44 police helicopter and initiated an airborne law enforcement program for Kigali, the capitol of Rwanda. The airship arrived with the latest police equipment including microwave down-link ability and the latest FLIR thermal-imaging systems.
Akagera Aviation had contacted Los Angeles Helicopters to negotiate for a highly qualified and skilled pilot with law enforcement experience to travel to Kigali, Rwanda and train five of their police pilots in the use of all the equipment as well as airborne law enforcement (ABLE) tactics.
"The course was exactly what I needed in terms of introduction to the work," said David Baard, Akagera's director of operations. "We achieved what we needed to. The course was well prepared and presented. The theory was well organized and relevant."
The training was closely monitored by government officials, and officer Barajas was asked to present an overview of the program to the officials at the completion of the course. In addition, Los Angeles Helicopters and Akagera are currently in talks regarding a future vertical reference and long-line training program.