"It’s nice to have another tool you can utilize.”
Two Warren County police departments received a donated infrared camera from the United States Deputy Sheriff’s Association.
Both the Wright City and Truesdale departments now have an expensive piece of equipment they say will help them serve their communities better.
The infrared cameras will help officers track subjects who flee into wooded areas, or help them find someone who has gone missing.
“Being in a rural area we oftentimes have subjects run into the woods after vehicle stops,” Wright City Police Chief Tom Canavan said. He says when that happens, they have to call the fire department to assist and don’t always have a good location to give them.
“It’ll be nice if we could get this camera out and give them a general direction of where this person might be or even if we could track them ourselves,” Canavan said.
Truesdale Police Chief Casey Doyle echoed that sentiment.
“In this type of work, when things sometimes happen on the fly with little warning or time to plan, it’s nice to have another tool you can utilize,” he said.
Having the camera will also keep police officers safer, Canavan said.
“Running through the woods, especially at night, is dangerous. You could get ambushed if that person has a weapon. So this also help in the safety of our officers if we can get a location on this person in the dark,” he said.
Doyle emphasized that the camera isn’t just for chasing down suspects who flee into the woods.
He said the department previously had an instance where they were searching for a person under the influence of drugs and alcohol who had made some “concerning statements” and had gone into the area of a large field and wooded area.
“We did not have this so we spent quite some time searching for him and we did eventually locate him, but he was pretty much in plain sight,” Doyle said. “But what we’re looking at and what we’re trying to see, we don’t have those capabilities in our eyes like these tools do.”
Canavan said his department would likely need to use the camera four or five times a year just to find fugitives who flee during traffic stops.
“That’s not a lot, but when it does happen it’s a nice piece of equipment to have.”
Doyle said his department might only need to use the camera two or three times a year but “you never know what you’ll be using it on.”
According to Mike Willis, the national training and programs director for the United States Deputy Sheriff’s Association, these cameras cost more than $700 on the low end.
The organization provides “much needed safety equipment to smaller, underfunded law enforcement entities at no charge to the department,” according to the organization’s website.
The organization approved sending a camera to both Warren County departments in a matter of hours.
“It was a fairly painless process,” Canavan said. “I am just appreciative to the United States Deputy Sheriff’s Association for the generous donation and hopefully it assists in our future efforts to apprehend fleeing fugitives and aid in the safety of our officers.”
“To have an organization that works with primarily small agencies is invaluable and we are appreciative,” Doyle said.
Both police chiefs also said by not having to spend a piece of their small budgets on the camera, it frees them up to use the money for additional needs. Canavan said his department just purchased two small rifle rated shields, which he said were expensive but needed, especially after the fake active shooter situation that occurred at Wright City High School in March.
“We can always use something at a smaller agency. You don’t have the funds that the larger ones do,” he said.
Doyle plans to add to the department’s technology.
“We’re just trying to expand services that a small agency can provide to a growing community,” he said.
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