THERMAL, Calif. - Massachusetts State police released video over the weekend from the final moments of the manhunt for the suspect Boston bomber. Thermal images from a helicopter show Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hiding under the tarp of a boat. It's the same technology used by pilots at the California Highway Patrol in Thermal. "That's the kind of equipment that we have on board," said Sergeant Mark Cannon. "We have the same ability to see suspects that are hidden, we have equipment on board that will allow us to see through tarps and that kind of thing."
The equipment includes a camera mounted on the front of the chopper connected to a large screen inside. On board, officers can switch between different modes, including maps, video and thermal imaging, a major key to search and rescue missions here in the desert. "If we're looking for a hiker lost out in the wilderness or that type of thing," said Sgt. Cannon. "We can see the difference between his body heat signature and the environment's heat signature and the difference between the two allows you to see the person."
Surveillance cameras and video played an important role in the days after the Boston Marathon bombings. FBI and the Boston Police Department combed through thousands of video and pictures taken by security cameras and people in the crowd. They eventually led to clear images of the Tsarnaev brothers. The Palm Springs police department uses the same tools in its investigations. "The technology that we have to look a video nowadays, to identify suspects and to put the information out via media to identify these people," said Lieutenant Mike Kovaleff. "It's critical."
Lieutenant Kovaleff says there's one thing technology will never replace, an alert community. "They would notice something that's unusual compared to something that's usual so everybody being vigilant is part of assisting the police agencies in cases like this," said Kovaleff.