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February 05, 2004
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Thermal-Eye: Man's "New" Best Friend

A Solution for Fugitive Search

On a cold, dark night North Texas, the local police department was informed of a dangerous fugitive on the run in the area. The suspect had delivered narcotics to undercover state agents during a buy-bust operation; however, when officers attempted to make an arrest, he managed to escape with several weapons still in his possession. The local police department immediately dispatched a team of two K-9 units, two supervisors and five patrol officers to actively aid in the search.

Upon reaching the location, the local police teams assessed the scene and realized this would be a difficult search. Not only was it extremely dark outside, but the fugitive had a head start. This dangerous, heavily armed criminal was wanted by several local agencies and the ATF for drug and weapons violations.

After evaluating the surrounding environment, the team recognized that the thick brush and trees could be a great advantage to the fugitive. Hiding would be easy here. The team needed to apprehend this dangerous fugitive quickly and needed the right tools to do it, especially in the dark.

When word hit that the fugitive had been spotted in a heavily wooded area near a creek, the K-9 teams were immediately dispatched, along with the other local officers on patrol. As they began securing a perimeter, they used the new Raytheon thermal imager the department had purchased. Now the team felt confident. Not only did they have the incredible nose of the dog to follow the trail; they now also had the benefit of "thermal" eyes.

The officers quickly spread out and one officer began using the Thermal-Eye 250D to survey the scene in thermal. The K-9 officers and their dogs stood out easily, as bright white objects against a dark background. Then he saw it. Just a few feet ahead of one of the K-9 officers, there was something bright white standing out behind the dense brush. Zooming in to get a closer look, the hotspot showed that there was something lying down in the thick brush. The officer immediately radioed the approaching K-9 officer. The team formed a perimeter and closed in on the area slowly. The fugitive didn''t stand a chance against the officers armed with "Thermal-Eye". Without the use of the thermal imager, the team could have easily walked into an ambush by the armed fugitive.


  • The law enforcement team was able to ''see in the dark'' with the thermal imager and monitor the criminal, as well as reduce the chance for officer injury. Without thermal, an officer sustains injury during 15% of searches.
  • With the thermal imager, the local department successfully apprehended the fugitive in a much shorter time than typical searches take without thermal.
  • The actual cost savings on this one search alone is significant. In addition, resources can be deployed to other important calls or duties.

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