The Knox County Sheriff's Office's Aviation Unit is the only local air enforcement squad
June 1, 2012
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  • By Steve Butera

    So far in May, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office Aviation Unit has handled a third of their overall cases in 2012.

    “Just yesterday, we had three calls for lost and missing children,” pilot Sergeant Tony Chamberlain said shortly after getting off a OH58 helicopter.

    East Tennessee’s only air enforcement squadron worked on 58 cases so far in 2012; in the month of May, the five helicopters had 21 calls out of their Island Home Airport base.

    “In the last two weeks, we have completed missions from start to finish more so than usual because a lot of times, we’ll get called out by dispatch to support a ground unit,” said Capt. Rick Trott.

    One of those calls was to the search for two “persons of interest” in a Cocke County triple murder this weekend. Yesterday, with the helicopter’s assistance, officers found Adam Lawton Edwards and Marsha Gail Shelton.

    “We can see if the suspect has hidden himself under some sort of cover at the scene of a crime. We can get down and see in the cover,” Capt. Trott added.

    Money used to fuel the choppers comes from the sheriff department’s “asset forfeitures fund.”

    The choppers come equipped with GPS units and nightvision cameras. Sergeant Chamberlain said during the summer, he’ll expect to see more marijuana grow operations through the use of the choppers.

    “We enjoy being busy sometimes because when we’re busy, we’re helpful,” Sergeant Chamberlain said.