New camera helps Somerset County have sight at night

At first glance, it just looks like a normal a police car light, but it's actually an infrared camera.

It's the first of its kind here on the eastern shore and it's something the Somerset County Sheriff's Department is pretty excited about. 

"The camera here, it detects body heat. Basically everybody gives off heat, so if you're outside day or night your head and your arms are all visible," says Deputy Lemuel White Jr. of the Somerset County Sheriff's Office. 

The infrared camera picks up what the naked eye can't.

"So with this, I can scan basically the whole area before I even get out of my car for my safety for officer's safety." 

Even though the sheriff's office has only had it for three weeks, they've already seen how useful it is for rural areas like Somerset County.

"About a week ago, we had a foot pursuit in Crisfield. The guy bailed out on one of the officers down there, but luckily I was in the area and I was there within two minutes. I basically found the path that he was on," explains Deputy White. 

The infrared camera picks up the heat our bodies emit, which leaves a trail for about 30 seconds, that way a deputy can easily track someone's path just like a canine would, but without having to get out of the car. 

"The suspect dropped something and on my camera from the road approx. 100 feet away, it picked up through the trees something he dropped and I basically guided officers in that direction. If we didn't have this we would have never seen it." 

And the camera can reach up to 600 feet. To put that in perspective, that's the length of two football fields.

"Let's say for instance there's two guys standing beside the house that I can't see with my naked eye, my camera can pick it up it's basically like a second partner that I have." 

Giving officers clear sight, even in the dark.

The sheriff's office tells us this camera was a pilot test, but Sheriff Ronnie Howard has already put in a request to get four more. 

He's hoping to equip every deputy with an infrared camera and urges other local agencies to invest too. 

Categories: Local News, Maryland