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States CHP Air Operations Achieves U.S. Accreditation

The Air Operations Program of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) recently became one of 10 accredited air operations programs in the United States.

The Public Safety Aviation Accreditation Commission (PSAAC) awarded the accreditation at the Airborne Law Enforcement Association Expo held in Savannah, Ga., July 18 through 23. The CHP is the largest state agency to complete the PSAAC accreditation process.

“I am extremely proud of the men and women in our Air Operations Program and the service they provide on a daily basis,” CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said. “Receiving PSAAC accreditation validates our commitment to excellence and demonstrates the CHP’s desire to continually look for opportunities for self-improvement.”

The award concludes a three-year pursuit for recognition of implementing industry standards intended to promote best practices throughout the airborne law enforcement community. By voluntarily complying with PSAAC standards, the CHP is recognized for its safe, effective, and efficient aviation operations.

The CHP Air Operations Program began in the late 1960s and consists of 15 airplanes and 15 helicopters. The air fleet assists CHP field operations and allied agencies across the state for emergency response, homeland security missions, patrol of rural roadways, speed enforcement, special events, and transportation. More than 170 CHP pilots and flight officers in eight air units throughout the state provide service to the public and allied agencies. In 2015, Air Operations flew 8,633 search missions, 396 rescue missions and saved 14 lives.

The accreditation process includes five phases: enrollment, self-assessment, unit assessment, commission review, and maintaining compliance and re-accreditation. A team of PSAAC assessors visited the CHP in October 2015 and examined all aspects of the CHP Air Operations Program, including administrative, operational, safety, training, and maintenance standards. Because accreditation is an ongoing process, the Department must continually prove compliance with PSAAC standards and submit to periodic on-site assessments.