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Helicopter equipped w/FLIR thermal equipment monitored 2nd suspect during standoff in Boston.

Boston Police did a good job.

Boston Police did a good job.

Thermal-imaging devices have been used to watch the second suspect in this week’s Boston Marathon bombings as he was holed up in his last hiding place, the boat.

Authorities said a helicopter equipped with a thermal imager (FLIR — a forward-looking infrared device —) spotted the heat signature of a person inside a tarp-covered boat, sitting in a backyard in Watertown, Mass.

After an area resident reported seeing a trail of blood leading to the boat, Boston Police gave instructions to the helicopter who used the sensor.

The thermal readings confirmed that there was indeed someone under the tarp, and that the person was still alive.  After that the helicopter´s termal equippment followed up the heat signature of the individual, even though he was underneath of what appeared to be the ‘shrink wrap’ or cover on the boat itself.

From that point on, the helicopter was able to direct the tactical teams over to that area.

After monitoring the body in the boat for more than an hour, police moved in and took the wounded bombing suspect, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, into custody.

The FLIR (Forward-Looking Infra-Red) system detects the Infra-red signatures of high heat sources, associated with the metal-hydride lights used in large grow operations.

A similar helicopter to this monitored the suspect by using thermal equipment , during the standoff in Boston

A similar helicopter to this monitored the suspect by using thermal equipment , during the standoff in Boston

The technology is not new. The military has used it for years on the battlefield. Law enforcement has adopted the device only recently, using it in search and rescue operations, fugitive apprehensions, and along the border to detect drug smugglers and illegal border crossings. Moreover, thermal imagers have been particularly helpful, albeit controversial, in the detection of indoor marijuana-growing operations.

Police will fly at an altitude between 1,200 and 1,500 feet in a helicopter fitted with FLIR. The thermal image of a structure will show the walls and other areas as bright white, indicating significant heat was escaping. This is than determined by the FLIR operator as being consistent with that of a structure being used for an indoor marijuana-growing operation.