Little known to law enforcement, the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP) consists of FAA Special Agents conducting investigative and operational activities in support of Federal, State, and local law enforcement.
The mission of the LEAP is to support law enforcement efforts by providing information, investigative assistance and training in strategies to assist law enforcement in cases where aircraft or airmen may be involved.
FAA Special Agents also provide training to law enforcement officers in aviation smuggling techniques, airmen and aircraft certification information, FAA intelligence resources and information sharing. The LEAP is managed by the FAA headquarters Office of Investigations and operated by Special Agents assigned to regional security divisions, centers and field offices throughout the United States.
Security of the National Airspace System (NAS) is the responsibility of the TSA. However, through the FAA LEAP program we are in a position to develop and provide general aviation related domestic intelligence to the law enforcement community, including TSA. Through activities such as conducting general aviation airport surveillance, interaction with general aviation pilots, repair stations and suppliers, aviation conferences, and law enforcement training, LEAP is uniquely positioned to develop sources of information within the General Aviation community. Our focus is on the smaller air operations and private operators using the smaller airports and airstrips throughout the region.
Throughout the western region of the US, FAA LEAP agents have developed a certified training course designed specifically for Law Enforcement. The course and materials are delivered at no charge for the officers or the law enforcement agency.
This course covers topics such as Ramp Checks, Required Pilot Documents, Aircraft Registration information, and a review of federal and state laws and highlights local law enforcement’s authority to inspect pilot and aircraft documentation, as well as aviation related State specific laws. The course provides an opportunity for law enforcement officers with little or no aviation experience to become familiar with General Aviation documents of all types and become more comfortable working in a General Aviation airport environment. The course concludes with a Ramp Check at a local airport where officers have the opportunity to apply what they have learned.
This course has been certified by various Peace Officer Standards and Training organizations for ongoing education credits for law enforcement officers in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. POST certification is in progress in Hawaii, Oregon, and Nevada. Through delivery of these courses, law enforcement officers also learn about the various activities of LEAP agents:
- Airman backgrounds and criminal history of applicants for various FAA certification programs to insure that persons who are known or suspected national security threats are denied access.Pilot, aircrew, aviation mechanic Certificate Revocations for violations of Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations and for violations of Title 49, United States Code (U.S.C.)
- Aircraft Registration Investigations into suspected false or invalid or terminated aircraft registrations.
- Ramp Inspections at general aviation airports to check for valid documentation including licenses, certificates, maintenance records, airworthiness certificates, etc.
- Check on transient aircraft flight plans, refueling stops and operating irregularities.
- Check suspicious aircraft thru the US Customs and Border Protection Air & Marine Operations Center (AMOC) and the Drug Enforcement Agency’s El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC).
- Establish aircraft lookouts and tracking services.
- Development of operational programs in conjunction with law enforcement to combat smuggling (drugs, humans, alcohol, contraband, etc.) and other criminal activity involving general aviation aircraft.
- Training and assistance to law enforcement officers. These activities are proactively initiated by FAA Special Agents or at the request of law enforcement. This type of interaction between FAA Special Agents and law enforcement works to develop positive relationships that allow the FAA to be a valuable resource to law enforcement.
If your agency needs information from the FAA to assist in your mission or if this program is of interest to your agency, please contact:
Special Agent Ken Cole
Federal Aviation Administration
222 W. 7th Ave., Suite 14 | Anchorage, Alaska 99513
Office: 907-271-5483 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Supervisory Special Agent Ed Stewart
Federal Aviation Administration
1601 Lind Ave. SW | Renton, WA 98057
Office: 425-227-1217 | email@example.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ken retired as a Lieutenant after 21 years with the Anchorage Police Department where he was the head of Major Crimes and Special Weapons and Tactics. He is an Alaska Police Standards Council certified instructor, a graduate of the Southern Police Institute and holds a Master of Arts in International Relations and Conflict Resolution from the American Military University. He is a member of the Alaska Association of Chiefs of Police, International Association of Chiefs of Police, Alaska Peace Officers Association and a Life Member of the Fraternal Order of Alaska State Troopers.