Pubdate: Tue, 25 Jan 2000
Source: New Haven Register (CT)
Copyright: 2000, New Haven Register
Author: Michelle Tuccitto, Register Staff


BRANFORD -- The Police Department has a new thermal imaging camera to
help officers find people and drugs.

The hand-held camera is valued at about $13,000, but the department
got it for free from the Office of National Drug Control Policy of

Arizona, said Lt. Arthur Kohloff.

"They've given the technology to several departments around the
country to help combat the war on drugs," said Kohloff. "We plan to
use it primarily for drug surveillance and to find lost people."

He went to the office's Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center in
Phoenix the first week of December to learn to use the device. He has
since trained several officers.

The camera detects heat.

Officers can see the footprints a suspect leaves behind. With the
camera, police can easily find a fugitive at night, like if a burglar
flees into the woods.

The camera will help keep officers safer, as they'll be able to
approach hiding fugitives while knowing their whereabouts.

For the war on drugs, the camera can detect if someone is growing
marijuana in a building because of the heat from the lights used to
help the plants grow.

In 1996, a state police thermal imager helped uncover a marijuana
operation at a Seymour business, L&M Home Improvement.

"We can also look for evidence with it, such as if someone tried to
get rid of an item they'd been holding," said Kohloff.

"When we need to do surveillance at night, it'll be invaluable," he

The Fire Department has had a thermal imaging camera for the past
couple of years, said Fire Chief Peter Buonome. It was donated by the
Chowder Pot Family Restaurant, and officials hope to eventually get a
second one, he said. Firefighters can use it to detect flames hidden
in the walls of a building and find people in burning buildings.

"It has come in handy for search and rescue operations," said Buonome.
"It is an important piece of safety equipment."
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