The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Aviation Unit won third place in a national competition to recognize the outstanding use of a high-tech tool in combating crime.
Sarasota Sherriff’s Deputy/Pilots Dave Bouffard and Brent Wineka took home third place at the FLIR Vision Awards presented at the 2013 Airborne Law Enforcement Association annual conference in Orlando.
The award was for the crew’s infrared video of the pursuit and capture of five suspects in a 2012 jewelry store robbery. The infrared sensor footage from the mission, similar to what was used by authorities in Boston to track down marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in April, shows the suspects scatter from their vehicle.
Bouffard and Wineka safely guided deputies to the suspects, hiding near a lake, and warn of potential hazards including alligators.
The Aviation Unit comprises four pilots and seven tactical flight officers.
Infrared imaging sensors, known as FLIR to military and law-enforcement pilots, track suspects at night based on radiated body heat. Humans look like glowing white blobs in the amorphous black and white images produced by the sensors. Combat aircraft and drones in Afghanistan also use this technology.
The FLIR vision awards were sponsored by FLIR, a manufacturer of the infrared sensors. A $1,000 donation was awarded to the charity of choice for the winning entries — the Sarasota Aviation Unit chose the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches.
To view the award-winning video, click HERE
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