Police dog

Some of the hardest-working members of a police force aren't even paid.

The K-9 unit in the New York City Police Department has played a vital role in law enforcement for more than a century, helping to track down criminals, search buildings and locate illegal materials. With a sense of smell 50 times more sensitive than a human's, a dog can sniff out criminals, drugs and weapons in situations where a human officer would have to search every inch.

New high-tech equipment will likely make the police dog an even more integral part of the crime-fighting process. The New York City Police Department has begun outfitting dogs in its K-9 unit with $9,000 infrared cameras strapped to their backs, reports the New York Times. The cameras transmit images back to monitors in real time, providing a dog's-eye view of the scene and allowing officers to see in the dark.

This is the same kind of equipment that was used by Navy Seals in the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound last May.

The hope is that, in the unfortunate event of an accident or terrorist attack, the dogs will be able to get into hard-to-reach spaces, giving officers a clearer sense of what lies ahead so they’re better prepared to handle dangerous situations.

The cameras were among several dog-related purchases the NYPD made with approximately $100,000 in grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The NYPD also bought a canine GPS tracking system, a dog collar that emits light, and two custom-built mobile kennel trucks. 

The newly equipped dogs will hit the streets next month following five months of intense training. You can see the infrared cameras and learn more at The New York Times.