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Discussion Starter #1
A while back, inspired by one of Mas's doctrines about "preserve evidence", I had mentioned the idea of mounting a digital videocam on a home-defense weapon for the purpose of ensuring that any "Serious Social Situation" with that weapon is well-documented; he had mentioned at the time that some folks at TASER were experimenting, and now with the proliferation of tiny digital-imaging equipment like the Flip I'm starting to think the idea may be ready for prime-time (then again, I am a bit of a wannabe-gadgeteer with regard to weapon-mount electronics, to the point that I'm already penciling ideas about a "wired rail" that could house a battery-pack in the forearm and feed power to lights, sights etc.

Anyway, thought I'd run this by the community, see what everybody thought about potential flaws and pitfalls, ideas for rail-mount component sources and things like that.

Ideas, flames? The idea with this thing is to use the tape to avoid "X said/Y said" situations in the aftermath.
 

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Re: Color me nuts, but... (Mounting videocam on HD-gun rail?

Sounds interesting. How does the camera know when to turn on and start recording? Controversial though it has become, the recent debate over the SureFire switch that has been implicated in two unintentional LE shootings suggests that the switch activation not be similar to the motion to press the trigger.
 

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Re: Color me nuts, but... (Mounting videocam on HD-gun rail?

I can think of some logistical problems that could be solved although the cost could be high

The little red dot sights like the Leupold Delta Point have electronic circuts that turn it off if there is no movement for 5 minutes but turn it on instantly when it is moved.

Patrol car video gear is turned on when the light bar is switched on

I have no idea what the power demands are for the small cameras but I would guess something could be hooked up with the light/laser and it might even be able to run on the same batteries.

I'm not sure it is practical but I'd be willing to bet that some bright engineer at one of the major companies has at least thought about it
 

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Re: Color me nuts, but... (Mounting videocam on HD-gun rail?

When I went through Taser training we were advised that the Taser-cams are probably bad ideas. They don't show the totality of the circumstances surrounding the event, and everyone will Monday-morning-quarterback the whole situation based on what may be a 30 second video. Made sense to me, and still does. Look up some of the videos on YouTube and you'll see what I mean.
 

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Re: Color me nuts, but... (Mounting videocam on HD-gun rail?

I know there was talk about putting one on the Taser but haven't heard anything lately. Did they actually do it?
 

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Re: Color me nuts, but... (Mounting videocam on HD-gun rail?

You Tacticool-guys keep it up and you'll be hefting 5 pound handguns! Look what happened to the M4Carbine(?) over 10 pounds!
 

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Re: Color me nuts, but... (Mounting videocam on HD-gun rail?

Retmsgt. said:
You Tacticool-guys keep it up and you'll be hefting 5 pound handguns! Look what happened to the M4Carbine(?) over 10 pounds!
Yeah ..... but it's more like 40 lbs. :oops:
 

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Re: Color me nuts, but... (Mounting videocam on HD-gun rail?

Well, I can point you in the direction that we took, albeit for different reasons...

My organization recently purchased a slew of very small/very lightweight videocams made by a company called Contour.
(Link: http://contour.com/camera) We're trying them out as a secondary video source (worn by safety personnel) in a live-fire shoothouse. The video is rendered in 1080P HD and saves onto an SD card. The objective lens also rotates, enabling mounting at virtually any angle and still allowing the filming to be rendered appropriately.

We are currently utilizing the factory "strap" mount on ACH/MICH helmet suspension for our safety personnel. Other companies (Daniel Defense is one) are considering producing a Picatinny rail mount for this camera. I've seen the polymer example of the DD mount, but not the metal, final version.

This reminds me of the show "Special Operations Mission." That guy runs a HD camcorder at 9 o'clock on his carbine's rail! This method doesn't give instant feedback in the manner of a product like a camcorder with a screen - but honestly, would you really want that, anyway?

HTH...

ETA: here's a link of some video taken with the camera. Keep in mind that the audio can be adjusted
Link: http://contour.com/node/99926
 

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Re: Color me nuts, but... (Mounting videocam on HD-gun rail?

Charlie Petty said:
I know there was talk about putting one on the Taser but haven't heard anything lately. Did they actually do it?
They did, as an optional accessory for the X26. I really wouldn't like it hanging off of the grip like that anyways, since the X26 is pretty compact in its factory form. The Taser Cam replaces the battery pack and extends down from the grip, much like an extended capacity pistol mag does.

There are some good examples of incidents where the camera gave good footage of the overall incident, but a lot of them look like this one. The camera doesn't turn on until the Taser's safety is deactivated, which in many instances is in the fray of an altercation. You don't get the whole story on camera, just part of it. The real benefit of the camera is for Taser International because they can use good examples (and bad ones) in their training information.

A good example of a Taser Cam in use is this one. (*Some "salty" language, may not be SFW) This incident gives you more of an idea of what went down, but still not the whole story.
 

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Re: Color me nuts, but... (Mounting videocam on HD-gun rail?

I went through the live fire stages of the NTI with videocam glasses last summer... even they only give part of the picture. However, my gun isn't going to be pointed at a threat until just before I fire. Even if I have it out it'll probably be at the low ready.
If you are absolutely convinced that "the truth shall set you free" then I can see the attraction.
However, I'm too cynical to believe that.
 

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Re: Color me nuts, but... (Mounting videocam on HD-gun rail?

Tim Burke said:
However, I'm too cynical to believe that.
You, cynical?

I'm thinking more tactically practical... :)
 

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Re: Color me nuts, but... (Mounting videocam on HD-gun rail?

The Force Science Institute had a lengthy 2 part piece on explaining the difference in court between video recordings and human perception of an event. I'd suggest leaving well enough alone. BTW: rule one is that the participants in the event didn't have the benefit of slow motion replay before making their decisions. If the video is introduced, it must always be presented in real time, not as stop action or slow motion. Mention must also be continually repeated that they had to make their decision right then and there!
 

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Re: Color me nuts, but... (Mounting videocam on HD-gun rail?

Gentleman:

I have been having some issues as of late that have taken me out of circulation since SHOT in January; only posting a couple of times in February on a matter of caliber discontinuation. Even today, I only have a moment but I wanted to make some general statements on this subject.

Coming from a period in time when certain old-timers complained about the issuance of hand-held radios because they didn't like the fact that by carrying them, they could always be "found" and, therefore, felt that they were, in effect, being "watched"; only to see such objections fade for a variety of reasons. And having lived long enough to see similar objections made (and similarly fade) against in-car cameras and, to a lesser extent, GPS-based "trackers" used to aid dispatching and gauge the activity of beat cars. I firmly believe that it will only be a matter of time before gun and/or body-borne cameras become commonplace in this business.

Somewhere about ten years ago, while working on the West Coast, a pet project of mine (that due to budget and time constraints never went as far along as I had hoped) involved exactly what "Diamondback" used to open this thread. It was a rail-mounted camera that (due to the constraints of technology at the time) was engineered to take one or more forward-looking, parallel-to-the-bore, "still" images related to the release of the sear. Basically, the sear served as a normally closed switch that would take the photo(s) each time the sear "broke" and the circuit "opened". Pretty neat and being a passive system, it eliminated the issues of the unintentional but perhaps related responses raised by "spwenger" in this thread.

But having been a cop, a trainer, a witness, and, yes Dean Speir (if you're out there), a formal film school student, I knew all too well (even back then) about the situations of people misinterpreting and even being mislead by the recorded images they see as mentioned here by "Maggot" and "William R. Moore". For while I am very impressed with the formal study done by FSI, one need only look back to the controversy surrounding the King video from ten years earlier (now twenty years ago last month) as to how much of it was shown, what impact it had and what (different) affects it had (might have had) when viewed in its entirety.

Sometime after that project there were at least two companies that I was aware of that attempted to design and market "gun camera" systems. A good friend of mine worked for one of them. Unfortunately, neither of them went anywhere; probably because the technology wasn't mature enough at the time to make things really viable. Like Charlie mentioned here, I am sure that the major players are (re?)evaluating such things today. In fact, I have still another system, recently discontinued by Bushnell that allowed you to install a simple, self-contained video recording device on a firearm. While I think it was designed for rifles, I always felt it could be useful in studying muzzle climb and weapon control from shot-to-shot on handguns; especially on multiple targets. Or maybe in observing/teaching "leading" concepts on shotguns.

As a side note, one should also think about that term: "gun camera". That is something that has been with us as a means of recording the effects of a trigger being pulled for over seventy years. So it is nothing new and at its beginnings, it was done as much to "prove" what people believed as it was to support their claims. Therefore, there are a lot of parallels here.

I certainly don't know anything about TASER®'s reasoning or experience and I am not speaking for them in any way. But with all the claims of misuse as well as the misstatements about the performance of their devices, I would have to think it must have dawned on somebody there that offering a record of at least part of what was going on when one of their products was employed would be good thing. And I would assume that this led to their TASER® CAM™ device talked about here by "Maggot" and Charlie. I don't remember and I didn't have time to look into my files or their materials but I thought they were always pretty upfront in talking about the shortcomings the concept had. It was a tool. It made things a bit better. But it was never presented as a panacea for the reasons that some of you pointed out in this thread.

But the REALLY NEAT thing that TASER came up with is their non-TASER-related AXON™ body-borne video system. It's the hot setup. I won't bore you with my recapping of it here, but it or things like it, will someday become as commonplace as the hand-held radios and the in-car cameras that I used to open this post.

Several years ago, I was asked to help evaluate a flashlight-mounted camera device and today there are several companies making them. The problem is that their fields of view are determined by the positioning and use of the light and that's not always what you want. I still think having something in line with bore of the firearm has merit as long as the images can be properly collected, presented and understood. But body borne devices like the AXON or any of the myriad of simpler (and cheaper) devices like the one mentioned by "ArmyCPT" are the way to go. For not only will something mounted to the head (especially aligned with the wearer's eyes) let you see whatever the officer "saw" in reviewing a critical incident but as some of these systems can already (and will more easily in the future) allow for real time transmission to others not on the scene, they can also allow for coordination of movement of people at the scene in real time as a critical incident unfolds if necessary and if appropriate.

I think (and I could be wrong) that idea goes all the way back to that original "Soldier of the Future" program (I have no idea what it is called now, the name seemed to change every couple of years when I still followed such things) for I thought the guns, helmets and uniforms originally conceived as part of that program were to allow somebody behind the lines to monitor what the people in field saw, did and "felt" so that they could be positioned and monitored for physical performance as needed.

While the needs (and the liabilities) of soldiers and police officers are NOT the same (a separate topic that both interests and concerns me for reasons that lie outside the guidelines of this thread), I firmly believe that it will only be a matter of time (and not a long time at that) when everybody on the street will carry a radio on their belt and a camera on their torso or their head.
 

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Re: Color me nuts, but... (Mounting videocam on HD-gun rail?

Gentleman:

Round Two

As much as I constantly try to remind myself and others that there is really nothing to the idea of "Coincidence" or "Synchronicity", having stumbled into people halfway around the world who did not work or travel in the same circles I did, only to find out that they somehow either knew me or friends of mine back home, I have also adopted a policy of "always being good in public because you never know who is sitting next to you on the bus".

That said, and hoping that you guys believe me, I had no knowledge of this "thing" until this evening.

I had the TV on in the background while making dinner tonight and heard what I thought was ad for an upcoming video game-based police show. Responding to all the commotion, I looked up to see what instead was the announcement of a live-action reality show called "Police POV" that will premier this Sunday evening, April 17th on something called "truTV".

Looking at what they were wearing to record things from the responding officer's point of view (hence, the name of the show I guess), I realized that it was the same Taser® Axon™, that I mentioned here in my post yesterday. So I went on line and found that not only is it, that device, but it is recognized by name on the webpage that describes the theory behind the show.

So, if yesterday, I thought that this concept of carry-along, personal cameras for law enforcement would catch on someday, then today I would have to think that if public interest in such police programming (and in first person, video game-like approaches to all kinds of things) is what I think it is, it might happen a lot sooner than I ever would have imagined.

Just thought that you would like to know.
 

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Re: Color me nuts, but... (Mounting videocam on HD-gun rail?

To follow up on some prior questions (and all of you raise good points), as far as turning on, the ideal would be some kind of switch that flips it on as soon as it leaves the rack, but I figured the Gen 1 version would take some warranty-voiding "Hardware Hacking" to reroute the power-button to a pressure-switch on the grip (not to trigger as you fire, but as you grip so that the "tape" is already rolling before the hostilities start).

I don't believe that truth will always set you free necessary, but I do believe that facts and evidence are to a skilled defense-attorney what bullets are to a skilled gunfighter: in each case, you want as much of 'em available to the one protecting you as possible.
 

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Re: Color me nuts, but... (Mounting videocam on HD-gun rail?

Diamondback said:
To follow up on some prior questions (and all of you raise good points), as far as turning on, the ideal would be some kind of switch that flips it on as soon as it leaves the rack, but I figured the Gen 1 version would take some warranty-voiding "Hardware Hacking" to reroute the power-button to a pressure-switch on the grip (not to trigger as you fire, but as you grip so that the "tape" is already rolling before the hostilities start).
If you're playing with prototypes, a relatively common pressure-pad switch on the front strap ought to activate the camera without separate manipulation that could induce an unintended "compression" of the trigger.

I think we all understand that a gunpoint or shooting incident may well involve actions that occur outside the fan of the camera's recording and that any marketing of the product would need to emphasize that point, so that that disclaimer would be readily available to a jury. Likewise, judging from the cameras built into cell phones, any literature should also include mention of the distortion of perspective from the wide-angle effect that would likely occur - perhaps by intent, with such a small unit.
 

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Re: Color me nuts, but... (Mounting videocam on HD-gun rail?

spwenger said:
...we all understand that a gunpoint or shooting incident may well involve actions that occur outside the fan of the camera's recording and that any marketing of the product would need to emphasize that point, so that that disclaimer would be readily available to a jury. Likewise, judging from the cameras built into cell phones, any literature should also include mention of the distortion of perspective from the wide-angle effect that would likely occur - perhaps by intent, with such a small unit.
Spwenger, maybe you have more confidence in juries than my cynical-ass old self does. I've seen too many juries fail to convict on strong cases because all of the evidence was...wait for it..."circumstantial". Any cop or practicing attorney on either side of the criminal court system will tell you that MOST cases are comprised of "circumstantial" rather that "direct" evidence, and that circumstantial evidence can be damning.

To have a jury, made up of 12 people who maybe haven't been in any kind of physical altercation since high school...if ever...look at some video and try to determine the dynamics of the situation from that primarily (and they will...you should see a jury perk up when we transition from witness testimony to A/V...it's like kindergarteners at snack time), well, it makes me uncomfortable.

That said, I will admit that dash cams have worked out well for us, refuting several claims of excessive force, but one attached to my gun or strapped around my head or clipped to my uniform...well, I'm just not so sure that a disclaimer by the camera company is going to amount to much.
 

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Re: Color me nuts, but... (Mounting videocam on HD-gun rail?

IrishCop said:
Spwenger, maybe you have more confidence in juries than my cynical-ass old self does. I've seen too many juries fail to convict on strong cases because all of the evidence was...wait for it..."circumstantial". Any cop or practicing attorney on either side of the criminal court system will tell you that MOST cases are comprised of "circumstantial" rather that "direct" evidence, and that circumstantial evidence can be damning.
No, I am simply trying to anticipate the reality that, to varying degrees, this technology is likely to come into use. When it does, the more that its limitations can be balanced against its potential, the better chance its users will have in trying to get a fair shake from a jury.

I lived in the L.A. area during the state trial of the LAPD officers involved in the Rodney King incident. Unlike the subsequent federal trial, the state trial was televised and I was able to watch portions of it. Some will recall that the George Holliday video, originally presumed to be irrefutable evidence of the officers' wrongdoing, actually proved to be the centerpiece of their successful defense in the first trial. The conviction of two of them in the subsequent federal trial was largely the function of a different jury pool, coupled with the fact that the initial acquittal had served as the pretext for a series of costly and deadly riots.

No, I have no implicit trust in juries - I've been questioned as a potential juror a few times and have actually served on one jury. Rather, understanding their weakness, I was only expressing my concern that the relative weakness of any evidence that may reach one should be as well documented, in advance, as possible.
 

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Re: Color me nuts, but... (Mounting videocam on HD-gun rail?

Spwenger, I understand that you weren't necessarily calling for camera's on every cop...I realize that this is more than likely going to happen. I am almost used to law enforcement having to prove to a jury with audio and video tapes, photographs and third party witnesses that our testimony is the truth, while a defense attorney rarely has to substantiate his witnesses testimony.

Guess I'm on a pity pot here, but I can't help but wonder just what this is all going to lead to. I am not saying that cops should be allowed to run amock. Nobody hates a dirty cop more than another cop...they stain us all. But I have already seen officers delay their response to some degree because of the fear of civil torts or possible disciplinary action. I submit that that isn't a good mindset for a cop to have in a lot of situations they are thrust into.

Years back when pepper spray became the hot (pardon the pun) thing in LE circles, the powers that be redid our "force continuum" (dontcha love all these "new" terms that somebody got paid a fortune for making up?) so that after "physical presence" and "voice command" was "pepper spray"...before even "soft hand techniques"...and of course a report to be filed whenever you deployed your spray. I'm here to tell you that there were many times myself and other older officers went right to "hands on" methods, mainly because we had found that deploying pepper spray at close quarters tended to work against US as much as the bad guy.

Sorry for the rant, and Spwenger I apologize if I offended...certainly didn't mean to. :)
 

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Re: Color me nuts, but... (Mounting videocam on HD-gun rail?

IrishCop said:
Sorry for the rant, and Spwenger I apologize if I offended...certainly didn't mean to. :)
No offense taken but it's actually "spwenger." If you feel grammatically impelled to capitalize, you would need to capitalize the first three letters as they are the initials of my full name. :)
 
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