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Thermal Imaging Turns Up the Heat

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2001
2 pages
This article describes the technology and law enforcement use of thermal imaging devices.
Thermal imaging devices allow users to see the location of anything emanating heat, such as people, cars, or even evidence recently discarded by a person. In order to evaluate the usefulness of thermal imaging devices for law enforcement, the Raytheon Corporation, with the assistance of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), provided 51 thermal imaging devices to 13 law enforcement agencies. The study documented the time it took for delivery and officer training and then determined the effectiveness of the technology for law enforcement purposes. The agencies used their thermal imaging devices in different ways, for example one agency used the device to help serve warrants while another agency used the device for water rescues and surveillance. Law enforcement agencies agreed the devices were a boon for law enforcement and served a wide range of purposes. The high cost of thermal imaging devices puts them out of reach of many agencies, yet there are programs to help agencies acquire this type of equipment, such as the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Technology Transfer Program. Contact information is provided.

Date Published: January 1, 2001