Cottonwood PD Thermal Imager

A wiregrass police department now has some special equipment they say will help find criminals faster. Police in Cottonwood now have a heat-vision unit that can help them track down and find suspects on the run.

This new thermal imager unit is something the Cottonwood police say will put their officers a few steps closer to catching criminals on the run. It helps officers spot criminals by detecting body heat, footprints, hand prints and even tire tracks.

Homeland Security money paid around $14,000 for the new thermal imager, but officers say it's worth every penny.

"It's nice in the fact that we can actually track the individual who is fled from police. We can search vehicles for a hidden compartment, and there's a lot of other things that we can do with the device that facilitates our law enforcement," said Chief Jim Smith of Cottonwood Police Dept.

The unit only weighs about a pound and a half and is small compared to other night vision equipment, but police say this little unit will help bring cases to a close.

This technology is nothing new. Fire departments have used similar equipment locating and searching in fires. Unlike the heat vision equipment they use, this thermal imager can't be used in a fire.

Police say the average sight range for this unit is about 300 yards, depending on the heat outside.