From Starlight to Street Light

Since 9/11 virtually all members of the law enforcement community have become soldiers in the war on terrorism. Even the more traditionally "peaceful" jobs, such as rural border control, park rangers and Bureau of Land Management scouts, are feeling the...

The need for low-light technology continues to rise on the list of essentials for law enforcement. "It would be ideal for every officer to have night vision devices, if only for safety," says Bise. "Night vision enhances the performance of any officer."

Candace Clemens is the vice president of marketing at N-Vision Optics LLC, manufacturer and distributor of tactical night vision equipment for military and law enforcement. Prior to joining N-Vision Optics, Clemens served as a communications executive with various public technology companies. For more information about N-Vision Optics, visit

Legal limitations to thermal imaging

Although thermal imaging is great for public searches — looking for a missing child in a wooded area or survivors in the rubble — there are legal limitations against the use of thermal imagers when searching private residences.

In the 2001 case Kyllo vs. United States, the Supreme Court determined that targeting a home with a thermal imager by is considered a search under the Fourth Amendment and requires a warrant gained through other evidence.

At question in this case was the 1992 arrest and initial conviction of Danny Kyllo for growing marijuana in his home. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management agent in charge of the investigation had gathered evidence, including Kyllo's utility records, indicating that Kyllo was cultivating the plants. Without a search warrant, he then asked an assisting agent to scan the home, at 3 a.m., with a thermal imager who found that high heat levels were coming from the garage roof and a side wall. Following the scan, the agent obtained a search warrant and found marijuana plants, weapons and drug paraphernalia in the home.

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