MIT students were recently honored by the Suffolk County District Attorney for their help in providing expert witness testimony in cases involving illegal gun possession. They were testifying that a discarded handgun would retain body heat for a period of time and that photographing the gun with a thermal camera could prove that the gun had been recently held.
From the Suffolk County District Attorney press release …
when the device is trained on a recently-discarded handgun, the body heat retained by the gun’s metal frame shows up as brighter than the area surrounding it. This can be used to corroborate a police officer’s observations that a suspect was carrying and tossed a firearm, and can dispel a claim that a recovered gun had been in place and untouched for an extended period of time.
Late last year, the very first jury trial to use thermal imaging as evidence in a gun possession trial ended in a conviction for Jose E. Rodrigues. In that case, Boston Police observed the suspect clutching his waistband as he walked along Whittemore Street on the evening of Jan. 12, 2009. When they inquired of him, he ran away. Officers gave chase, losing sight of him briefly before spotting him with an arm outstretched as if having thrown something; they finally took him into custody in the side yard of a Glendale Street residence. Along his path of flight, they recovered a 9mm semiautomatic Smith & Wesson handgun.
[ Many thanks to Betty for emailing me the link. ]