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Police Dogs’ Days Now Could Include Camera Work

September 9, 1996

NEW YORK (AP) _ Another task for man’s best friend.

New York City police hope a remote camera harnessed around a dog’s neck will give them a view of everything from a gunman’s hideout to whether victims are buried underneath piles of rubble.

``Instead of a bird’s-eye view, you have a dog’s-eye view,′ police Lt. Michael DiTrani told the New York Daily News.

The 3-pound camera, called RECON for Remote Canine Optical Navigator, is about the size of a saucer with a dime-size hole in the middle for the lens.

Attached to the dog by a harness, the camera broadcasts to a small television screen watched by police. The dog-cam is more more mobile than remote-controlled robot cameras, and the pooch’s sense of smell can guide it.

Ace, a 4-year-old German shepherd, was saddled with the camera last week during a standoff with a gunman at a Staten Island home. Police went inside only after the pooch checked out the basement and first floor. The gunman was found upstairs, shot to death.

Police plan to use the camera to search collapsed buildings and disaster areas where victims are trapped in wreckage. A microphone may be attached to the camera.

Police are also developing a dog-size bulletproof vest, but are hoping no one ever fires at a camera-wielding dog.

``We’re not looking to sacrifice the dog,″ said Sgt. Stephen Berger, coordinator of the police canine unit. ``Once we see on the camera where the suspect is, we get the dog out.″

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