KCPD is using thermal imaging cameras to protect city streets - KCTV5

Police helicopters use thermal imaging to track down suspects

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If you're thinking about running from the cops, being in hot pursuit might be what gets you caught.

The Kansas City Police Department has a new fleet of helicopters equipped with thermal imaging cameras that show an individual's heat signature.

This is the same technology used to help authorities find the Boston Marathon bombing suspect hiding in a covered boat. It might seem like a futuristic video game, but these cameras are used on a daily basis in the Kansas City area. 

Helicopters can be flying thousands of feet in the air and help the officers on the ground find unsuspecting criminals who believe they have outrun the law. Thermal imaging helps to capture the bad guys who think they have found a good hiding spot.

It's also a safety measure for the ground officers as well.

"The safety factor it gives the guys on the ground, to give them a heads up there might be something in this car right next to me they can't see. To know it might be something bad," KCPD helicopter pilot Cord Laws said.

The police officer has patrolled KC skies for more than 13 years and never imagined technology this versatile would be at his disposal. The cameras have been used to protect and serve and also to rescue.

Lost children in the woods can be found with the imaging.

"In a cool evening somebody out in the woods, they will shine like a light out there in the woods," Pilot Laws said.

KCPD has only had the thermal imaging cameras for about a year now, and Laws said that while he's still learning the ins and outs he knows one thing for sure.

"Don't think you can run and get away. That's my message," Laws said.

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