Make us your home page

The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Reacting to 4 law enforcement deaths in Florida, Sen. Nelson wants better equipment for officers



Responding to the deaths of four law enforcement officers in Florida, including two this week in St. Petersburg, Sen. Bill Nelson is asking the Department of Justice to consider giving hand-held radar or heat-detecting devices that can penetrate walls to deputized federal agents when they have warrants and are on dangerous manhunts. 

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder (full text below) Nelson said he would be willing to sponsor legislation to create a pilot program. He said the technology could "greatly shift the odds in favor of the good guys."

The Honorable Eric Holder
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
Dear Attorney General Holder:
In light of the recent killings of four police officers in Florida, I am writing to request that you determine whether members of the U.S. Marshals Service regional fugitive task forces should have the use of hand-held radar devices that provide “sense-through-the-wall” surveillance, or other appropriate new technology, like thermal-imaging cameras.
Sadly, these four officers were killed while on manhunts for dangerous fugitives in Miami and St. Petersburg. In the St. Petersburg gunfight, the suspect was hiding in the attic of a house. In the exchange of gunfire, a deputy U.S. Marshal also was wounded.
My staff has informed me that the expanded use of appropriate technologies for agents on these federal task forces – law enforcement officers whose duties include serving warrants and apprehending wanted felons - could greatly shift the odds to the good guys, before they have to enter a building where a fugitive is hiding out.
Please consider my request as part of your review of the recent killings of these law enforcement officers. I would like to know whether we should offer legislation to create a pilot program for use in limited circumstances involving the apprehension of fugitives believed to be armed and dangerous. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter, and I look forward to your response. If you or your staff have any questions, please contact my counsel, Stephanie Mickle at (202) 224-1554.



[Last modified: Thursday, January 27, 2011 1:30pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours