Stearns County is using thermal imaging in squad cars. I was joined by Stearns County Sheriff Steve Soyka to talk about this. He says they’ve added this technology within the last two years and recently used this to find and arrest a burglary suspect in the Albany area. Soyka explains there was a burglary in progress a couple of weeks ago to a pole shed north of Albany. He says the home owner has motion detected lights and saw someone actively try to break into the shed at 3:00 in the morning. A Stearns County deputy was nearby and located the suspect hiding in the woods using the thermal imaging technology. Soyka indicates the deputy probably wouldn’t have been able to find this person without the technology. He says the suspect had the stolen property on them.
The thermal imaging device is attached to the top of the squad car. The officer can manipulate the infrared imaging to look around and the images come up on their computer screen. Soyka says these have been added to squad cars who work on night shifts and can especially be effective during the winter months because the device identifies heat sources. He says this can also be helpful when approaching a crime scene at night or locating a missing person on a frozen lake.
Soyka says this technology is attached to the vehicle and cannot be used in pursuit on foot or on a vehicle chase. He says this is just another tool for officers to detect criminal activity or lost persons.
If you’d like to listen to my full conversation with Stearns County Sheriff Steve Soyka it is available below.