New tools are always welcome by law enforcement agencies when it comes to locating those who break the law and could possibly harm the public.
The Polk County Police Department recently received an anonymous donation of seven new forward-looking infra-red cameras. These thermal imaging cameras can have numerous valuable law enforcement uses.
They can be used any time night or day so officers can “see” fugitives or suspects. It makes no difference whether they’re hiding in foliage or dark areas, the suspects radiate a heat signature that’s different from their surroundings and gives them away. Officers can spot and apprehend a subject without giving away their own location.
Illegal drugs, contraband, and even people are often transported inside hidden compartments in large vehicles. Thermal imagers can detect these hidden compartments even though they may be invisible to the naked eye.
Thermal imaging units are extremely valuable for search and rescue for lost and missing persons and children at night and in wooded areas.
One of the first actions taken by an agency in any manhunt or crisis situation is setting up a perimeter. Thermal imaging technology can make setting up a perimeter far more effective. Suspects can be more rapidly and safely spotted and apprehended.
Thermal imaging technology can even be an aid to accident investigations. Officers can locate and measure skid marks beyond what is visible on the pavement. A thermal imager can see the heat signature left by a layer of rubber that’s too thin to be seen with the naked eye. Skid marks are still detectable long after the accident.
Chief Kenny Dodd indicated the units will be distributed to the patrol, criminal investigation, drug task force and K-9 divisions for use for their day-to-day operations. Dodd added that devices such as these could help decrease the number of officer related injuries.
Officers are often injured chasing suspects at night on foot and several have been injured falling on uneven ground and even running into unseen objects. These thermal imaging cameras can help officers locate suspects that flee on foot and reduce time spent navigating treacherous terrain.