Tech Used To Catch Boston Suspect Deployed Daily In Minn.
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Police say the Boston Marathon bombers planned more attacks in the heart of New York City.
A picture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev shows him in Times Square with friends just last fall.
Investigators say Dzhokhar and his brother, Tamerlan, came up with the New York City plot spur-of-the-moment, after they killed an MIT police officer and stole an SUV last Thursday.
The brothers had another pressure cooker bomb and five pipe bombs they wanted to set off, but they ended up using them in a firefight with police.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in that battle. Dzhokhar escaped but was caught a day later after a homeowner found him in a boat stored in a backyard.
The dramatic capture involved technology that Minnesota State Troopers use every day.
“It’s a combination day camera and thermal imager, which we use at night,” said Lt. Matt Nelson, chief pilot for the Minnesota State Patrol.
The camera is underneath the helicopter and inside the cockpit is a screen with a device that looks like a video game controller.
The controller helps line up the camera, zoom in and out and focus.
Two Minnesota State Patrol pilots go up every night to patrol and more than a half dozen Road Troopers also learn the technology.
“I would say five or six hours of actual training gets them a very good understanding, then it’s just repetition,” Nelson said.
The imagers can’t see through homes, cars or even thick trees, but the helicopter itself often gets the suspect to hunker down until ground crews narrow in.
“It all is a team effort,” Nelson said.
The State Patrol has three choppers equipped with the technology, which can also beam back live pictures so other agencies can watch.
All 87 Minnesota counties can ask for assistance from the helicopter.
And it’s not always criminals who are tracked down. Troopers also use the cameras during brushfires, floods and missing person cases.