In hot pursuit: Thermal drone cam helps catch suspects

In hot pursuit: Thermal drone cam helps catch suspects

You can run, but you can’t hide- at least, not from this thermal drone camera that’s assisting the Grant and Adams County Sheriff’s Departments with search and rescue.

“We’re here in Grant County, doing some training for a rescue of a ‘downed officer’ scenario,” said Adams County Sheriff Dale Wagner.

A team member supposedly shot, a shooter on the run, and the FLIR camera –hot on his trail.

“The FLIR capability allows us to find temperature of bodies, or of anything,. that’s putting off a heat signature.” Wagner said.

Out in the open terrain that covers much of Adams and Grant County, that heat signature could be your target, but could also be an animal.

Either way, the camera gives the two departments a brand new crime scene vantage point.

“We coordinate with each other to ensure that we’re working together to solve some of the issues we’re facing every day,” Wagner said.

Between them, Adams and Grant Counties have three drones. Adams County’s drone was funded entirely by donations.

The FLIR cam picks up heat, while another camera gives a clear view of the scene.

On Thursday, that scene was the Tactical Response Team rappelling down this cliff, to assist their fallen officer.

A sight the drone camera made crystal clear from far away.

“These guys love it and it’s a great tool,” Wagner said.

Today was just a training exercise, but the FLIR cam saw live action last Friday.

“Some individuals were involved in a robbery, and they ran out into a field, from the police,” Wagner said.

The would-be escapees, were eventually betrayed by their own body heat.

“We called for the drone and within two minutes of being deployed, we had located the last of the three individuals from the field and walked them out.

During Thursday’s training exercise, the FLIR cam was able to detect heat signatures from varying heights from 130 to even as high as 390 feet.

“This is a huge tool for search and rescue,” Wagner said.

But not only search and rescue. The FLIR cam can be used to locate missing persons, or even track hotspots at a fire call.

“It’s really a safety aspect for law enforcement as well. Where we’re dealing with all sorts of scenarios, similar to this one, where we have to go into the unknown,” Wagner said.

Plus- it’s really cool.