Seeing through to the hot spots

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Seeing through to the hot spots Powered By Docstoc
					By Sara Schreiber

                                                                     Amid falling costs and improved
                                                                   features, law enforcement may be
                                                                   able to find a few more reasons to
                                                                   pick up a thermal imaging camera

C          ole Burdette, chief tacti-
          cal flight officer with the
Los Angeles Police Department Air
                                        quickly went to work, setting a large
                                        perimeter of about seven blocks.
                                        When Burdette arrived on scene in a
                                                                                    says Burdette. Within 5 minutes of
                                                                                    being in station, search crews locat-
                                                                                    ed one suspect hiding in bushes
Support Division remembers the          helicopter equipped with a thermal          behind a garage. They spotted the
day a few years back when a super-      imaging camera, they quickly spot-          next suspect on the roof of another
market robbery quickly turned into      ted the first suspect attempting to         garage, crouching beneath a tree.
a heated shoot-out between suspects     break into a house and alerted offi-            Burdette credits the thermal
and surveillance officers. Two of the   cers to his location. Meanwhile, two        imaging device with helping officers
suspects were shot, recalls Burdette.   more men remained at large.                 locate the suspects quickly and with
“One officer remained in the car and       “You could just imagine, sus-            little additional danger to ground
one ran out into the perimeter with     pects that are known to be armed            patrol. “Because of the [thermal
the remaining suspects. So we have      and you’ve just been in a shoot-out         imaging device] they were able to
one suspect who’s down in the car       with them, and now you’ve got               coax him out and take him into cus-
upon our arrival, and we have three     K-9 handlers and SWAT officers              tody without further incident.”
suspects outstanding.”                  going in. The level of danger [the              Thermal imaging cameras aren’t
   Helicopter and search teams          officers] are involved in is great,”        just for SWAT teams anymore.

                                               ■   July 2009   ■   Law Enforcement Technology   35
                                                                                                                                       Images courtesy of FLIR
FLIR’s PathFindIR LE is a new
compact thermal imager for police
cars that fits behind grilles.

Aside from use in search and rescue                Suspects can’t hide their heat. Unlike night vision, thermal devices can “see
missions, the cameras can locate                   through” obstructions like smoke, dust, vegetation and light brush, day or night.
“hot” cars and even detect potential
grow operations. Law enforcement                     thermal imaging can “see through”         of quality improvement. He also
agencies take note: Once consid-                     smoke and dust, and is not restricted     notes units have other built-in elec-
ered an expensive albeit useful tool,                by vegetation and light brush. The        tronic features like digital wireless
today’s units are fa
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