The Joint Aviation Unit (JAU) is a cooperative effort between the Gainesville Police Department and the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office.  The mission of the JAU is to provide aerial support to all law enforcement and public safety agencies within the City of Gainesville and Alachua County.

The aviation unit has flight crews from the Gainesville Police Department and the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office that fly three military surplus OH-58 helicopters.  The helicopters are all equipped with search lights and Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) thermal imaging cameras. Microwave downlink equipment then sends the FLIR images to officers on the ground. The flight crews respond to in-progress crimes, missing persons, and conduct routine patrol flights. 

In addition to assisting law enforcement agencies within Alachua County, the JAU also assists other departments of the various city and county governments.  Homeland security flights and storm damage assessments are conducted for utility companies.  Command and control flights are conducted for Alachua County Fire Rescue and Gainesville Fire Rescue during forest fires and large building fires.  Code Enforcement Officers use the helicopter as a platform to conduct investigations. The Department of Environmental Protection also utilizes JAU services for natural resource management.  The JAU also conducts public demonstrations of their capabilities to various groups throughout Alachua County.

In 2007, the Joint Aviation Unit was awarded the Excellence in Aviation – Unit of the Year award from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The JAU also received the Eagle Vision Award from American Eurocopter the same year.

GPD Helicopter Pilot
Officer Justin Poirot
Phone: (352) 334-3362