TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) is pleased today to announce Dan Ijpkemeule, a member of the Aviation department for Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, is the recipient of the 2021 Florida Sheriffs Association’s Civilian of the Year award. This award recognizes exemplary service above self by a civilian employed at a Florida Sheriff’s office.
Dan has been a valued member of the Sheriff’s Office Air Support team since April 2018 when he became an official employee. Dan has been fixing and maintaining public safety aircraft, including the Sheriff’s Office’s aircraft, for the last 17 years. He has earned the reputation of being the “go-to guy” for anything. Due to his technical knowledge and ability to continuously learn about new products and techniques, Dan is often able to fix things and make them better than how they arrived. That is how he has earned 100% percent confidence from all crewmembers as they know and trust everything is done correctly to the last detail.
Since becoming an official member of the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, Dan has been instrumental in various ways. From establishing a maintenance plan for their new helicopters to improving their hanger, as well as assisting marine patrol and fleet with installation of specialized equipment to eventually becoming one of their best Tactical Flight Officers, Dan has become a true asset to the Sheriff’s Office. Not only does the office value his skills, but there are times when other agencies call to request Dan’s help with electrical and avionics problems.
Dan’s tasks do not stop there. As the lead mechanic, his responsibilities at the Sheriff’s Office increase daily. With his technical skills and knowledge, he can accomplish tasks that are usually only completed at large aircraft service stations, which would be cost-prohibitive. One of these tasks included Dan being able to modernize their 1964 UH-1 Huey (a type of helicopter). He was able to save $50,000 in installation costs and any future maintenance costs that would have occurred from keeping the older equipment and wiring. Without Dan’s ability to modernize the Huey, they would have eventually grounded the aircraft, which would have cost them between 5 and 10 million to replace.
Dan was also instrumental in the purchase of their newest helicopter. He completed all maintenance inspections and confirmed the quality of the helicopter before closing the deal. Once the aircraft was purchased, by fitting all the public safety equipment on the helicopter in their hanger, he saved the agency between $300,000-500,000 as the work did not have to be contracted out. Without Dan, the Sheriff’s Office would not have been able to complete any of the needed aircraft maintenance during the COVID pandemic. He was able to complete all the projects in the aircraft hangar during that time and keep them maintained to his high standards. This allowed the aviation division to never be out of service due to maintenance.
The Division Commander says, “I would not have attempted this project if Dan were not working for the Sheriff’s Office.” This shows how much of an impact Dan makes as an aviation member on a daily basis. Not only did he conduct this highly technical work in the hangar, but he used the time to teach junior aviation mechanics, as well as their pilots.
Since working at the Sheriff’s Office, the additional improvements that Dan has accomplished have been able to provide the community with enhanced law enforcement capabilities. This includes aerial firefighting capabilities, mosquito control, and overwater helicopter rescue. This has dramatically increased the safety and quality of life for residents and visitors of Charlotte County. As a result, the overall county budget was decreased and with the addition of new missions, new funding became available to reduce costs for the county.
“Dan is a true aviation maintenance supervisor. He controls the flow of maintenance and ensures that we have needed components on hand,” said Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell. “He has maintained and tracked maintenance schedules to prevent downtime and, when unexpected maintenance pops up, Dan is there day and night to bring the aircraft back into service.”
Not only does Dan have technical skills, but he is a qualified Tactical Flight Officer and Lead Crew Chief. This has allowed him to assist with the apprehension of subjects, in locating missing persons, in long line rescues, and in providing surveillance during search warrants.
Dan has been recognized by the agency for his technical maintenance and operational work on many occasions, which is why he had been selected for the CCSO Civilian Member of the Year award. Dan has improved the safety, security, and quality of life for everyone that they support. “Dan lives up to our core values of integrity, professionalism, and trust every day in all he does,” shared Sheriff Prummell.