A clearer view for Seminole Co. sheriff's helicopters

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - The Seminole County sheriff's helicopters just got high-tech upgrades.

A new high-definition camera system gives the pilot a clearer view of what's happening while in the air. That allows the crew in the air to better direct deputies on the ground.

"That's critical in an emergency situation," said Steve Farris, chief pilot for the Sheriff's Department.

The Sheriff's Department spent nearly $800,000 to add the camera system and better GPS capability to its helicopters.

Pilots said that now, in addition to clearer pictures, they are able to point the camera at a target, like a home or street, and the exact location pops up on a screen in the cockpit.

"In the past we couldn't always be 100 percent sure until a deputy arrived, that we were looking at the right address," said Farris.

The image is not only clearer with the new technology, but they also have 10 times more zoom capability, allowing them to get closer to targets and identify suspects faster and more accurately.

"When we're airborne there's a lot to look at and a lot to take in, so with increased zoom capability and a clearer picture to look at it makes our job a lot easier," said Farris.

Seminole County is one of just two law enforcement agencies in the state with the upgrade.

Farris said the system's price is paying off.

"We've had a number of finds with this camera already. The crews are still getting used to the new technology, but we are noticing it's working very well," said Farris.

Seminole County's sheriff's helicopters are often called on to help other counties, which means other agencies will benefit from the new gear.