SARTELL -- A new piece of technology makes patrolling the streets of Sartell at night a little easier.

The Sartell Police Department installed thermal imaging cameras on the spotlight of three squad cars.

Sergeant Kelly Mader says while they won't replace their spotlights, they will be a helpful tool when searching at night.

"One of the things we did a lot was using our spotlight to do our searching, but the bad part of that is who ever we are looking for can also see where we are looking making it easier to hide," says Mader.

The cameras are designed to pick up heat signatures from people, houses and cars up to 500 yards away that can't be seen by the naked eye. The cameras also can record video to the squad cars computers that can be used for later investigations.

"They pick up any heat and will come up on our screen crystal clear even when it's pitch black out, or heavily wooded," says Mader.

Each camera costs about $3,600 dollars and was bought with money from the department's budgets and forfeiture funds.

Mader says while the technology belongs to Sartell they are happy to assist other area agencies. He adds with their three thermal imaging camera's he wouldn't mind having every squad car equipped with one.

"I'm happy with the three for now but obviously if they work out we can get a few more cars with them on," says Mader.

Other area police departments use hand held thermal imagers but Sartell is the first department to have them installed in squad cars.


Sartell police demonstrates how the thermal imaging system works. (Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON)