Kennebec sheriff’s deputies get thermal imaging cameras

Posted April 02, 2012, at 11:28 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Kennebec County Sheriff’s Department has a new crime-fighting weapon that helps deputies see in the dark.

The department’s nighttime optical thermal imaging camera translates minuscule temperature differences into images on a computer. Unlike night vision goggles, which collect existing light to enhance vision, thermal imaging devices detect heat and allow the user to not only “see” in the dark, but also see areas otherwise invisible to the naked eye, including behind shrubs.

Capt. Daniel Davies told the Kennebec Journal the thermal camera could prove useful in several scenarios, including accidents in which someone has been ejected or a missing person who has wandered into the woods.

The sheriff’s office installed the thermal cameras on two cruisers in January. Bought with a grant, they cost about $4,000 each.