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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

ALEA Holds 40th Annual Convention in Tucson

By Ernie Stephens, Editor-at-Large

Tucson, Ariz. was the site of the Airborne Law Enforcement Association’s 40th Annual Convention and Exposition, which ran from July 14 to 17. Co-hosted by the Tucson Police Dept. and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency, the event drew aircrews from across North America for networking, exhibitions and social events. Members were also offered their choice of 47 professional development courses specially designed for aircrews and operation managers.

Manufacturers AgustaWestland, Bell, Eurocopter, MD Helicopters, Robinson and Sikorsky were on-hand with aircraft, as well as systems providers, such as Breeze-Eastern, FLIR, Night Vision Systems and Rolls-Royce. A total of 155 companies displayed their services and wares in the Tucson Convention Center’s 89,760-square-foot exhibit hall.

Members of the organization had expressed concern about attendance figures, given the number of out-of-state city, county and state governments that chose to boycott Arizona by refusing to send its employees there on any kind of official business. The boycotts, which had the potential of affecting hundreds of ALEA members from places like Los Angeles and Washington DC, was in protest against a then-forthcoming, controversial Arizona law that opponents said would unjustly target Hispanic people for possible immigration violations. But the fears of those members were laid to rest once the final headcount of 1,310 came in.

“Our numbers are actually up some,” said ALEA president Martin Jackson of the turnout. “[Attendance] is a little over what we had last year in Savannah. We’re really proud of that.”

ALEA CEO Steve Ingley added: “The vast majority of ALEA members who were from boycotting locations came on their own dime. This is a testament to the value of the ALEA Conference for our members, and the commitment that our members have to self-improvement and the people they are sworn to protect.” ALEA’s next convention will be held in summer 2011 in New Orleans, La. (From September 2010 Rotorcraft Report)

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