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Sheriff's Dept., DNR utilizing night scope technology

by Kelly Rohrbough

STAFF WRITER

New technology for fighting crime at night is about to prove that there is light at the end of the tunnel for area law enforcement.

The Harrison County Sheriff's Department and the state Division of Natural Resources Law Enforcement-Harrison County office now each have a set of ITT 160 night vision scopes.

According to Paul Hamrick, executive director of the Harrison County Solid Waste Authority, he brought the idea before the board of directors at the waste authority three months ago.

"(At that time) the DNR already had a set of night scopes for 12 counties," said Hamrick. "The chances of a Harrison County officer using them were slim."

He then asked Meadowfill Landfill to match the waste authority's money to cover the scopes. Meadowfill paid for the scopes, holsters and battery chargers out of the organization's Community Improvement Fund, said Hamrick.

Each scope costs $1,690 while the holster and battery charger run $20, he said.

The scopes require no light at all, said Hamrick. In total darkness, an officer can look through the device and see the surroundings clearly, only the image is green.

"It's a near infrared light," said Hamrick.

"It (the scope) can take any source of light and intensify it."

Both the DNR and sheriff's department have specific plans for using the technology to fight crime.

Sgt. Roy Cool of the Fairmont District Office of the DNR said the scopes will help his officers investigate littering, illegal dumping and poaching.

"The prime time for crime is at night and during the early morning hours," said Cool.

"This gives us the ability to monitor criminal activities at night."

Harrison County Chief Deputy Albert Marano said the scopes will be a big plus for his officers, too.

"It will make stakeouts easier to identify criminals and those dumping garbage," he said.

Hamrick said his office averages 75 to 100 complaints a month on littering and illegal dumping.

Trouble spots include the fire access road in Reynoldsville that runs through Sun Valley as well as the turnoff to Lumberport on U.S. Route 19 near Hepzibah, he said.

These are just two areas officers will be monitoring more closely with the new scopes, Cool said.

The clock is ticking, Hamrick said, for local litterbugs.

"They need to be aware it's a matter of when," he said.

Staff writer Kelly Rohrbough can be reached at 626-1403 or by e-mail at krohrbough@exponent-telegram.com.

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