Since NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton announced a pilot program outfitting police officers with body cameras, many were unsatisfied with the demonstration. Gotham Gazette’s Kristen Meriwether tested one of the models in Times Square, on the subway and walking over the Brooklyn Bridge. The VieVu LE3 was provided by the Public Advocate Tish James’ office.
For the first video (above), Meriwether had clipped the pager-like device to her shirt. It’s meant to be clipped onto a tie, which police officers are not required to wear all the time, but might work better with a heavy bullet-proof vest because it’s pretty shaky, “almost unwatchable” in fact. The audio is pretty good. But damn does it wave around, distorting everything in its sight. If the suspect is sitting and the officer is standing, the camera only gets the top of his head.
In a different trial, Meriwether clipped the camera to backpack strap in the center of her chest. It was not so shaky.
The VieVu LE3 is non-submersible waterproof and shoots HD quality at 1280×720 video at records at 30 frames per second. It has 16 GB of non-removable raw storage, with “a storage capacity of twelve hours hours at SD quality video storage and six hours at HD quality video.” It’s alright (full specs here) if used properly. But they’re really, really going to have to teach cops to use it properly.
The camera does not have night vision:
The makers wanted to avoid the possibility of an occurrence like having an officer view a night vision-enabled video showing a suspect reaching for something (like a weapon), and then changing their story to match the video when there was no way they could have seen it happen that way during the actual encounter.
Good looking out.