This is a review from a LEO for other LEO's. I'm not assigned to the streets anymore but I do still work OT on holidays and STEP DWI's.
I know bodycams in law enforcement have vocal detractors, but this is a product review. There are plenty of hotly debated threads on forums elsewhere.
The model I have used is the Recon Jet Black, which comes with clear, yellow, and smoke interchangeable lenses.
Pivotheads are, by far, the best bodycam available for LEO's if you can adapt to its important limitations (discussed later). I bought them because they were, and are as of this writing are, the only glasses capable of 1080 or 720 at 60fps. I've tried all settings, and I just leave them on 1080 now.
THE RAVE- These glasses make POV videos that make prosecutors' mouths drop open. I cant say what juror's reactions are yet because Ive yet to have a case with PH video make it beyond a quick plea. Have problems getting a jury visualize what HGN is, or what distinct and sustained looks like? Ever testified about other aspects of SFSTs that occurred but you cant see on the car video? Ever took an hour or more articulating factors that lead you to your decision in a use-of-force report or IAD investigation? Ever wasted hours of everyone's time on the stand with an attorney trying to convince a jury that you didn't or couldn't see what you did?
Dear friend, as The Raven quoth, "Nevermore."
It is hard for me to contain the superlatives of how well these glasses work. If you turn them on following a car you can narrate lane crossings (or whatever) as they happen, and the video is better than any car camera I have ever seen ( plus there is no pesky red light visible coming on in the front, visible in rear view mirrors ahead, that can cause drivers to straighten up). Viewers walk up to the car with you and experience almost everything you did except for the smells. Jurors or judges see what you saw as you approached an address on a hot call, heard the screams, saw the faces of panic, surprise, relief, or rage that caused you to make the decisions you did.
Granted, there may be legal implications in some states you need to sort out before you use these. There are absolutely policy implications. Our department authorizes these cameras, and since we use electronic report systems, the videos are uploaded directly into the report as an attachment file at the time the report is written. With this procedure I've not run into any problems with someone claiming a video was altered, but if I was ever involved in a critical incident I would upload a video to an internet cloud service ASAP so there's a file stored off-site with independent documentation about the upload and lack of any edits.
If I ever get a case that goes to trial and the video is admitted as evidence, thus becoming a public record, I may post samples here on Amazon.
Fire up the PHs, make the best decisions you can with what you have, and the 1080 HD POV video will do the rest.
THE RANT- Because PHs are not designed for primarily for LEOs, they do have some aggravating quirks that bit me more than once. First of all, you cannot put the glasses in standby mode for any length of time. They shut right back down if the camera isnt activated. Second, you have to wait 5 seconds after powering the unit to hit the record button, otherwise you will get no video. If you are off on your count by 1/100th second before you hit 'record', no video. More aggravating is that this isnt immediately apparent because the red blinking record light isnt visible when the glasses are on. These things caused me to miss more than one recording I thought was getting.
To make sure its recording you need to pull the glasses forward from your face a bit to double check the interior LEDs. I finally gave up and leave them attached with a rubber band to the visor, taking them down when needed and powering up all functions before I put them on.
When PHs record HGN they do so spectacularly. Alas, there is a technique to this to get it right.. When looking for HGN, you need to be mindful of the camera. Many first time users get gorgeous, HD video of hair and a forehead (glasses pointed high). Also, LEOs need to be mindful that bright lights will wash out the picture, so the power of LED flashlights needs to be dialed down for that.
In lower light situations, PHs are sensitive to the color of ambient light. Many people dont realize that sodium streetlights are yellow, others bluish, some florescents more green. PH videos will show these color casts in lower light. The videos are also more grainy, but Ive yet to see a lay viewer complain about that in LEO videos. They show what needs to be shown.
The glasses need to be charged regularly. I've charged them one weekend, put them away, and had low battery problems the next if they weren't recharged. If you use them daily, they need to be recharged (and downloaded) nightly, just like your phone.
Also, you cannot expand the memory beyond the 8MB hardware. If you work patrol in a large department and shag call after call on a 8, 10, or 12 hour shift, the memory wont last. You can get an optional Bluetooth adapter that dumps videos to your cellphone, but that may bring its own set of administrative problems. The Veho Muvi VCC 05 HD10 I've reviewed on Amazon would probably work better if you want to record everything.
If Pivothead is listening, a wishlist-
1 Some kind of small vibration to confirm to the wearer recording is on and give warning if its going to unexpectedly stop (ie, battery or memory full).
2 At the very least, a firmware user option that will automatically start recording when powered up.
3 Micro SD capability, using the 8MB as a cache while writing to the card if needed, or triple the internal memory.
4.Longer battery life.
Another potential drawback- court OT evaporates when good PH video is present. If you are one of the guys that gets your OT money from the courthouse with trial dates reset after reset, PHs may not be for you. If you, like me, prefer to sleep in rather than get up early on your day off, the PHs are a succulent gift from the gods.
Fair warning, though: If you aren't proficient in the correct administration of SFSTs, PHs will hand a good DWI attorney a beautiful, 1080 HD, early Christmas present for their client.
And the biggest drawback- they look dorky. Sunglasses often sport extreme designs,so in the daytime with smoke lenses they will probably blend in. Slap the yellow lenses on them at the gun range and nobody gives them a second glance. But at night, with the clear lenses, they often get the WTF look from passersby.
But none of these negatives outweigh the positives. Recently I pulled up as an unintentional first-on-scene on a potential homicide (dispatched as an accident) with the suspect and the deceased together. Detectives trying to sort out whether they were dealing with a murder or a suicide wanted a detailed statement, so I pulled out the glasses, uploaded direct to DVD, handed it to them, pecked out short, single paragraph, and went on my way.
I am a firm believer that if a LEO is doing what they are are supposed to do, good cameras are their best friend. Like it or not, bodycams are the future of law enforcement. POV bodycams are the cutting edge of this trend. Pivotheads are expensive, but they give much better results than other video glasses used by others at my department, and will more than pay for themselves in peace of mind.