No "Night Vision" for DPD Choppers

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Dallas police helicopters have been flying without their so-called "night vision" for two years.

    The thermal-imaging cameras have been broken for two years, and officers acknowledge that people have escaped capture because of it.

    Thermal-Imaging Cameras Broken for 2 Years

    [DFW] Thermal-Imaging Cameras Broken for 2 Years
    Dallas police say they expect to replace the helicopters' so-called "night vision" in October. (Published Friday, Jul 30, 2010)

    "Our cameras on the nose of these choppers are 10 years old and worn out because of heavy usage," said Lt. David Graham, who oversees the helicopter unit.

    Graham said the thermal-imaging cameras are a must-have because help officers catch violent criminals as well as help protect officers on the ground.

    Top brass in the department say it could be two more months before the cameras are replaced.

    The city was awarded final approval on a 2008 federal grant that will supply the money to upgrade the cameras. The department said red tape at the state level has held up the money.

    Graham said the new cameras will greatly improve the unit's ability to find people on the ground.

    "I can't think of a single piece of equipment that has had such an effect on law enforcement as the thermal imagers," he said.

    People can't hide under leaves or in trees without being spotted by the chopper pilot using a thermal-imaging camera. The cameras can sense body heat and turn it into an image on a screen in the cockpit.

    Top brass say the helicopters will get new cameras by October. However, many officers said they are skeptical because the project has seen one delay after another.