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What's in Red Wing's arsenal?

Department officials say most Red Wing police officers carry both the M4 assault rifle (left) and a 12-gauge shotgun (right) in their squad cars. Mike Longaecker photo

When Tim Sletten started on the force 31 years ago, Red Wing cops carried standard-issue six-round revolvers and nightsticks.

Today, his officers carry .40 caliber handguns that hold 17 rounds to go with Tazers and Asp nightsticks. In most squad cars, a shotgun and an assault rifle.

Not to mention the techie gadgets available in the department's arsenal room.

"I've seen a huge advancement in technology since I've been here," Sletten, Red Wing's police chief, said.

Officers can now see in the dark, search in hard-to-reach places and shoot more accurately than ever.

"I don't know that there's a department equipped better than us," said Training Officer Joe Juliar.

The R-E asked Sletten to open up the department's arsenal for a closer inspection.

Here's what he had to show.

@Sub heads:Stedi-Eye

@Normal: These high-tech binoculars were received in January 2009 as part of a Department of Homeland Security grant. Quantity: 1. Value: $13,000.

The asset in these binoculars is its gyroscope stabilizer, which virtually eliminates all hand tremor and vibrations. Once an officer locks in an object by squeezing the 4.5-pound device, it stays clearly in sight.

Juliar said the gadget is especially useful in tracking license plates or in long stand-offs.

"It really gives us the advantage," he said.

@Sub heads:FLIR thermal imager

@Normal: Valued at $14,500, this infrared device works in complete darkness, smoke or light foliage. Received in 2004 through a grant. Quantity: 2.

Juliar said the device specializes in locating "anything from lost people to bad people" in low-light situations. Human figures can easily be viewed at varying distances. Heat sensitivity can even reveal hand- or foot-prints.

The unit can scan up to 1,200 feet. It also can produce up to 50 JPEG images that can be downloaded and saved.

@Sub heads:Video pole camera

@Normal: This item, purchased through a Homeland Security department grant, allows officers to search high drop ceilings, overhead compartments, vehicle undercarriages and around corners. Value: $2,800. Quantity: 1.

"How would you check where there's big shelves?" Juliar said.

This device, he said, is how officers can do it. Officers insert one of two cameras into the tip of this device, which can extend up to 6.5 feet. One camera includes LED lights to illuminate areas. Officers view images on a 6.4-inch LCD screen mounted at the base.

@Sub heads:Night Enforcer 5000

@Normal: Received in 2002 through a grant, these night-vision goggles allow officers to see in the dark. Quantity: 2. Total value: $7,500.

The devices can be hand-held or mounted to a headset. They function under minimal light.

"These are the good ones," Juliar said of the goggles. "These aren't what you buy in the store."

Sletten noted that all officers on night patrol also carry night-vision monocles.

@Sub heads:Hawkeye flexible borescope

@Normal: This $2,500 device allows officers to probe narrow spaces. Quantity: 1.

Juliar said the borescope comes in handy when looking under doors to detect threats. It also can be used to search inside dashboards, where he said drugs are often stashed.

@Sub heads:M4 assault rifle

@Normal: Available in every squad car, this rifle shoots .223 ammunition. Juliar called the M4, which replaces the AR-15 assault rifle, versatile and "super accurate."

The gun includes mounted lights that can be activated by a squeeze on its front grip. Illuminated sighting allows officers to target subjects in low-light situations.

Juliar said the rifle can be utilized in gun-threat situations. He said it is the same rifle used by the Goodhue County Emergency Response Team.

@Sub heads:Remington 870 shotgun

@Normal: The 12-gauge shotgun is carried in most squad cars, Juliar said. It shoots double-aught buck, which projects nine pellets at subjects.

The shotgun could be used when guarding a back door during a search, or to specifically end a threat in a non-crowded area, Juliar said.

He admits the gun looks intimidating, but said that's a result of practicality. Its shorter size allows officers to maneuver it more easily from squads.

"We don't set it up to look mean," Juliar said.

@Sub heads:Springfield .40-caliber handgun

@Normal: Issued to every officer. Like the assault rifle, the gun has night sights that glow. Small lights can be mounted to the gun.

Juliar said the department was allowed to decide what handgun would replace its predecessor during the most recent replacement process. He said 24 of the 27 officers chose the Springfield model.