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Night Vision Goggles Shed Light as Crime-Fighting, Safety Tool

May 29, 2007  | 

A total of 10 counties in Denver’s North Central Region of Homeland Security upgraded their arsenal of crime-fighting and safety tools with the recent purchase of state-of-the-art night vision goggles, according to USA TODAY and KUSA-TV.

Used by the military for many years, the purchase marks the first time some area agencies will have access to the high-tech equipment. Agencies in Douglas, Arapahoe, Adams, Jefferson, Denver, Elbert, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Boulder, and Broomfield counties will share four pairs of goggles for law enforcement use. The purchase cost $35,000.

"This sort of technology just doesn't exist on the local level, or at least it hasn't historically,” said Jamie Moore, emergency management director for the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. “So what we're doing here today in the Denver Metro area is extremely unique."

Local officials cite a variety of situations where the goggles will be invaluable for officers, including location of a missing child or lost elderly person at night, night-time surveillance, identification of the location of fleeing criminals, and during an active shooting scenario.

Westminster Police Department’s Trevor Materasso says use of night vision goggles, which utilize infrared to pick up ambient light undetectable by the human eye, alters the way officers can conduct a field search and perform their jobs.

"They (officers) may see a bad guy before the bad guy sees them. It allows them to approach that situation differently," says Materasso. "In open fields and late at night a flashlight will have a tremendous amount of limitation. If we were forced to search a field for a missing child using flashlights, there is a good possibility that we're going to miss stuff."

Device training procedures for the officers included submerging approximately 50 members of various agencies into complete darkness, over several days, in an abandoned school.

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