Infra-red camera on police helicopter catches criminal

10:22 PM, Apr 20, 2010   |    comments
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Tampa, FL - What looks like a video game is actually real life videotape from the infra-red camera mounted on a Tampa Police helicopter.

In the video, you can see a K9 unit creep up on a home invasion suspect who thinks he's hiding between buildings. Thanks to the eye in the sky, the suspect never had a chance, even in the middle of the night.

Timothy Green is in stable condition at Tampa General Hospital after Tampa Police say an officer fired at him in self defense Tuesday morning. Green faces a slew of charges including robbery and home invasion.

Green's cohort, Alton Marchman, is also in custody, thanks to cool technology on the police chopper.

To get a better breakdown of the technology, we connected with Tampa Police pilot Dave Dennison. He is one of several officers who assists from the air.

"When a suspect flees from one of our street units, either in vehicle pursuit, foot pursuit, or in some way they're trying to locate a supect, they'll call us," said Dennison.

The reason is because of a "cool" camera, mounted on the front of the chopper. Dennison shows us how this "hot" technology works. "We can find somebody totally covered up or totally in the woods that we can't see - just by the heat from them - the camera can detect that."

The infra-red camera works best at night but it still helps during the day.

And that's exactly how countless criminals are caught every year, making these cameras, as Dennison said, "Just absolutely invaluable to us."

They're not only good for catching bad guys. The infra-red cameras are key in water and fire rescues as well as missing person cases.

"It is very rewarding. I get paid to come to work and know that what we're doing every night is helping the community," said Dennison.

The cameras can pick up more than the heat coming off of people. Air Service has been able to find guns that have been recently used because they're still hot.



Erica Pitzi, 10 Connects Reporter

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