New helicopter cameras can zoom in on your from miles away


Finding a needle in a haystack, or a burglar hiding the woods miles away is now a lot easier for law enforcement.

That is the strength of the new tactical technology newly installed in sheriff helicopters in our area. The upgrades come at no additional costs to taxpayers.

The St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office funded this initiative through a federal grant. $455,000 of high tech cameras, integrated data, a massive spotlight, and even a PA system to announce warnings to the public are all included in the upgrades.

They can do all of it from 200 feet in the air.

The helicopter itself isn’t new. It's military surplus from 1972.

"Really, it’s a game changer for us,” said Sgt. Jim Adams, the Lucie Co. Sheriff Air Unit Supervisor. "There's about 50 lbs of wiring that goes to that camera and its very tedious stuff."

"We can actually lay a spot on the ground by touch screen, just by touching on it. Push another button that is a joystick button on the screen and it'll hold that camera right there on the spot on the ground," Adams said.

How advanced?

Adams says you can see and run a license plate number in the air. During the day, the resolution is high definition. And at night, pilots can zoom in on a scene from more than 5 miles away in flight. They also can hover far enough away to not scare the suspect off.

"Sometimes you might only see a foot or a knee and with this stuff we can see with a lot more detail and we know what it is we are looking at." Adams said, who takes pride in protecting deputies on the ground from the air. "It's our number one mission is to support that deputy on the ground. They have a hard, hard job."

Every inch of the county is documented by Google maps with street names and property owner information integrated in as well.

The new system helps them to better cover 688 square miles in the county.

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