POLICE Magazine

AUG 2018

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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44 POLICE AUGUST 2018 REAL WORLD USERS While writing this article, I was honored to spend some time with units from two law enforcement agencies that have great need for night vision on the job. I'm talking about the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Border Patrol. Recently the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Con- servation Commission started working with new night vision devices. One of the leaders told me that these devices are a must for the unit. "We are in the middle of the Florida swamps looking for illegal poachers, drug smugglers, or someone who is just deeply lost in the Everglades," the leader said. e inherent dangers they face in the swamps, both human and animal, are very real for SOG. e people they are looking for are often heavily armed with rifles, and the swamps are home to alligators and several species of venomous snakes, including rattlesnakes, coral snakes, copperheads, and water moccasins. Night vision is very important for the safety of these officers. e U.S. Border Patrol's working environment on the Southwest border is about as different from the Florida swamps as could be. But like their fellow law enforcement professionals in Florida, Border Patrol officers in southern Arizona have a great need for night vision. One agent explained the danger they face in the Arizona desert. He told me if they see a suspected illegal immigrant crossing the border there is noth- ing they can do about it as back-up is about an hour away, and the coyotes (human traffickers) are heav- ily armed. Shockingly, the majority of border agents have out- dated night vision equipment or none at all. e agent went on to explain that in the Border Patrol it's a first come first get when it comes to equipment. THERMAL DEVICES Infrared thermal cameras and viewers can be used as a type of night vision device, but they work very differently from image in- tensification systems. While image inten- sification systems such as the ubiquitous AN/PVS-14 intensify available light in the environment to give the user night vision, thermal devices measure the heat radiating from a person, animal, or object and con- vert that heat into an image of the "target." While researching this article, I was priv- ileged to have FLIR's Breach PTQ136 multi- functional thermal imaging monocular at my disposal. I have spent many years using night vision, and it was rather interesting to use this very compact handheld thermal. Weighing only 7.4 ounces, the FLIR Breach (www. flir.com) can be concealed in a pocket or mounted to a helmet via its mini- rail feature. e Breach has an internal memory and can record up to 1,000 images and 2.5 hours of video in day or night conditions. It also features advanced image processing and a bright high-definition display for enhanced image clarity. is is a great tool for law enforcement operations. CHOOSING THE RIGHT DEVICE Both night vision and thermal systems have a role in police work. To discuss which is best for what appli- cation, I went to my local subject matter expert, Lt. Glenn Hamann of the Titusville (FL) Police Depart- ment who also happens to be the SWAT team com- mander. Hamann says both tools are extremely ben- eficial for small unit tactical missions, especially for threat detection and ambush prevention. Hamann works in his city's urban environments and in the area's forests, fields, and swamps. He offers this advice, "When making building entries, night vision is the way to go, as night vision works with glass such as mirrors and windows and ther- mal not so much. However, in open field environments or forest environments whether looking for dangerous men who may be wearing camouflaged clothing or predator animals who have their own built in camouflage, thermal is the way to go." Law enforcement administrators will have to decide whether night vision or thermal or both is best for their mission. e good news is that costs are coming down on this equipment. Another point to consider is that not every unit needs top-of- the-line night vision gear. You can save money by matching the gear to the light conditions where your team operates. Genera- tion 3 gear is critical in extremely dark conditions, less so where there is a lot of ambient light. Paul Pawela is the director of law enforcement training for the National Association of Chiefs of Police (www.nacoponline.org). He is a nationally recognized expert in firearms and defensive tac- tics and has been awarded the John Edgar Hoover Memorial Gold Medal for distinguished public service. Image Intensification Night Vision: H Piloting aircraft, vehicles, vessels at night H Moving through rough terrain at night H Threat detection and identification H Surveillance H Room entry and clearing in low-light conditions Thermal Imaging Systems: H Search and rescue H Threat detection H Evidence recovery H Determining if vehicle, building is warm H Hot spot detection after or before fires Applications for Night Vision Tools Thermal imaging can determine if a vehicle engine is warm. Photo taken using FLIR's Breach PTQ136. Florida wildlife officers use NVG to detect human and animal threats. PHOTO: ABBOUD BEDRO PHOTO: PAUL PAWELA MATCHING NIGHT VISION GEAR TO YOUR MISSION

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