Photos courtesy of Vievu
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The use of video in law enforcement has become somewhat ubiquitous, especially in the form of in-car video. Its value in establishing an evidentiary record and improving officer safety and practice is generally widely accepted. The newest iteration of law enforcement video is the body-worn version, intended to give an officer’s perspective and actually go where the officer goes. Vievu’s PVR-LE2 is a solid choice by any measure.
What It Is
The Vievu PVR-LE2 is a small (approximately pager size) and relatively lightweight, about 3.5 oz., that attaches to the officer’s uniform, capturing their perspective during routine duties. The unit eliminates the need for separate recorders, external batteries or cables, and it can easily be worn on the uniform. With only one moving part, the on/off switch, the camera is built to capture the action without getting in the officers way. It captures up to four hours of video and audio, in full color, before needing to be downloaded or recharged.
The clip system allows secure locking or quick transfer between a variety of locations, such as an officer’s uniform, the windshield or dash of a vehicle, or an interview room. Other mounting options are available for motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles, jet skis and other applications, depending on your needs.
The camera records VGA quality video in color at 30 frames per second. This is the same quality you see with standard broadcast television. The wide angle (71 degrees) allows the officer to capture the action without worrying about framing the shot. The camera also has a LED status light to indicate the function of the unit and warn the user when memory or battery is running low.
This camera exceeds the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) standards for police video, as well as FCC and CE certification which meet RoHS and WEEE standards. Each device has four gigabytes of memory and can record up to four hours of video, which is a realistic time frame before recharging needs to be done to avoid losing data.
When officers want to download the video, all they need to do is connect the camera to the computer using the USB cable that comes with the camera, then open up the camera software on your desktop. A screen appears asking for your username and password. Without this information the footage in the camera won’t be accessible, which is as it should be if the camera gets lost or stolen. Once the footage is downloaded the memory on the device is automatically cleared so the officer is instantly ready to go back out into the field.
The PVR-LE2 base cost is $899.95 per unit. Add in tax and extended warranty and you’re at about $1,000 per unit. Add in the cost of additional mounting units and delivery, set up, training and software the cost can run to more than $1500 per unit. For example, Oakland (Calif.) PD purchased 350 cameras in September, 2010, at a cost of $540,048.00, or about $1,542 per camera.
The costs do add up. But a significant amount of time and money can be saved in conducting investigations when video evidence is available, which may offset the purchase and training expense. It’s estimated that a single complaint investigation involving three or four officers, including witness interviews and follow-up investigation, could cost about five times more to conduct than the price of a camera, such as the Vievu camera system. That’s the real value of body-worn video: the cases that never go to court because the video evidence is so strong.
The value of law enforcement video has repeatedly outweighed the equipment and training costs involved with enhanced evidence gathering, report accuracy, complaint management and increased professionalism. The use of body-worn cameras is a natural progression in the use of technology in police work and is probably going to be more common in the future. If you’re looking to get started, the Vievu PVR-LE2 is a solid, no-hassle option.
• Simple design
• LED status light
• Compact & rugged
• Intuitive software
Approximate street price: $900