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Tactical Flight Officer Carlos Quezada retires after 30 years of service

APPLE VALLEY, Calif. ( — This week the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department will see the retirement of Carlos Quezada after 30 years as a tactical flight officer. 

During his extensive career with the department, Quezada has been privy to many rescues and close calls. 

Some of them involved wilderness rescues, surveillance during police pursuits of suspects, and providing air support for the ground police officers and sheriff’s deputies. 

Quezada got his start in law enforcement after serving in the United States military for two years, the national guard for six years, and then applying to the sheriff’s academy. 

“I got into the [sheriff’s] academy when I was 32, so you know I was one of the ‘old’ guys because most of them were in their twenties,” said Quezada. 

He then served as a patrol deputy for five years before applying for his dream position in the Aviation Division of the sheriff’s department. 

“When I was little, I saw the police helicopters growing up in East Los Angeles with the spotlights, and I wanted to be that guy,” said Quezada. He wanted to be the one shining the spotlight.

After securing a position in the Aviation Division, Quezada was soon to find out just how dangerous and fast-paced his new position could be. 

“There was a pursuit we took over for Riverside County that ended up in Lytle Creek,” said Quezada. “We followed the suspects into the mountains and found out they were armed. They took a shot & wounded my pilot…we had to do an emergency landing.”

In addition to pursuits, Quezada was also present for many hoist rescue operations in our local San Bernardino mountains and forests. 

“The pilots and crew are under a lot of pressure and constantly need to be aware of their surroundings,” said Quezada. “We were doing a rescue up in the mountains and had to get close…the [helicopter] blades were feet from the rock wall. One wrong move could cost us.” 

With stress and pressure a full-time part of his job, Quezada does reflect on the many positives of his position such as, “Shop with a Cop” and meet and greet events for the community through the department. 

“We see a lot of ugliness, but at the same time, we see a lot of good,” said Quezada. “We have to have compassion, a little sympathy, and empathy.”

After his many years of service, Quezada is looking forward to retirement and his hobby of photography to keep him busy. 

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