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Bullard TI Commander
or at least warm. As per the Globe’s Metro Desk, Boston police have a new gizmo to link perps with pieces:

When the Bullard TI Commander camera is pointed at a recently discarded handgun, the body heat retained by the gun can be seen, prosecutors said. This can be used to confirm an officer’s observation that a suspect had just discarded the gun and rebut a claim that the gun had just been lying there.

But just taking pictures isn’t enough . . .

After Boston Police purchased the camera several years ago, prosecutors reached out to experts at MIT and went through a series of legal steps to get Pillai and Wahab, who both have master’s degrees, qualified as expert witnesses.

Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said the two students had put a “powerful tool” in the prosecutors’ toolbox.

Commenters are not that easily impressed.

Drob173 wrote:
This is completely pointless, all it shows is that a gun was “handled” by someone, which could be either the criminal or the victim.

TyroneJ wrote:
Basically, this is used to intimidate suspects into confessing, given that they don’t understand that the forensic claims of this technique are lies. As was pointed out above, even if you take the thermal image at face value as showing the gun above ambient, you still need to link that thermal energy to the suspect. If you do that by the cop claiming he saw the perp toss the gun, then you did not need the thermal image. If you do that by finger prints found on the gun, then you did not need the thermal image.

But what if no one actually saw him toss the gun, but he was the only guy in the vicinity?

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  1. Seems like an awfully high-tech (read: expensive!) tool to use for proving a relatively minor part of a criminal case.

    More relevent in Old Blighty due to the draconian penalties on gun possession but here in the US the mere fact that someone handled the gun is not dispositive of whether that same person committed crimes with said weapon. And given that gun possession by non-felons is generally a misdemeanor offense in most US jurisdictions, it’s hard to imagine them using such a big gun (so to speak) for such a small target.

    Furthermore, the scanner may not be all that relevant if the defense’s counter-expert (who could be getting paid by the taxpayers if the defendant is indigent) testifies that there are factors other than a human touch that could cause the gun to register above ambient temperature.

    Sort of akin to using a spy satellite photo to show that your car was parked at the 7-11 parking lot at the time the store was robbed, which could be relevant if you denied being at that 7-11, but still a pretty minor point.

    More colloquially, I’d call this a million dollar solution to a fifty dollar problem.


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