McLennan County has one of oldest law enforcement aviation units - KXXV Central Texas News Now

McLennan County has one of oldest law enforcement aviation units in Texas

(Source: KXXV) (Source: KXXV)

The McLennan County Sheriff's Office has had an aviation unit since 1974.

"We're one of the oldest law enforcement aviation units in the state of Texas," Captain Shawn Nixon with the Sheriff's Office said.

Nixon has been with the unit for 19 years. He's now the captain over the sheriff's office special operations.

"I command the swat team, the bomb squad, the hostage negotiation unit, the narcotics unit and the aviation unit," Nixon said.

Much like the McLennan County Bomb Squad, the three pilots on the aviation unit also have jobs outside of being pilots. 

'Whether it be the middle of the day or the middle of the night, [we] drop what we're doing or leave our families from what they're doing and come report to duty," Nixon said.

The aviation unit currently has two helicopters and three pilots.

"Ever since the inception of this aviation unit with the sheriff's office, it has been surplus aircraft. U.S. government surplus aircraft that have allowed us to have and maintain an aviation unit at very low cost to the citizens of McLennan County," Nixon said.

Sheriff Parnell McNamara said like the bomb squad, they'll send the aviation unit if another law enforcement agency asks.

"It doesn't matter where it is. If we get a call, and we can possibly go, we answer that call," McNamara said.

From search and rescues to vehicle pursuits, the aviation unit is available to several counties around Central Texas, including Bosque, Falls, Freestone, Hill and Limestone.

In September 2016, the unit flew to Robertson County to assist the Roberston County Sheriff on a case.

"They thought they had located a big marijuana field so Captain Nixon went straight to the airport, got the helicopter and flew down to Robertson County," McNamara said.

They found 5,900 marijuana plants worth $2.9 million.

Nixon said they typically use the helicopter for search and rescues, vehicle pursuits and aerial photography.

"If we were following a vehicle, they would have no idea we were up here but we can watch them for miles ahead of us," Nixon said.

"If we can stop drug dealers on the highway before they get into our county, that's our objective," McNamara said.

Nixon and McLennan County deputy Bryce Chapman assisted Waco police on Tuesday after a home was burglarized and some of the suspects got away.

Nixon said the bird's eye view gives them an advantage.

"Everything you see is out in the county is a shade of green for the most part. So if someone is wearing a red shirt or even a black shirt, black stands out very well in green," Nixon said.

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