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  • Night Vision for Patrol?

    So I know some departments issue clip on night vision for their tactical units. Just curious if you are issued NV, if you use them on normal patrol as well for some calls? If you do, how do you implement it to the other people on your shift who aren't issued night vision.

    I def see this as a benefit to sneaking up on certain houses or looking for a suspect, but just want other's two cents. Thanks.

  • #2
    Night vision would have numerous challenges to overcome in the patrol environment- limited resolution, limited distance, lack of color, lack of depth perception, and unreasonable expense given the rest of those challenges.

    So I went a different direction, with a decent pair of low-light binoculars.

    Better glass transmits more light, but all things being equal, larger objective lenses gather more light, and larger exit pupil diameters transmit more light into your eyes, up to the limits of the human eye.

    The pupil of the human dilates to about 7mm after it relaxes in darkness. 6x42, 7x50, 8x56, and 10x70 binoculars all have about a 7mm exit pupil diameter.

    All things being equal, 50mm objectives gather MUCH more light than 42mm objectives, and so on.

    But anything above about 7 power, is more challenging to use when hand-held, due to the shakiness of the view.

    And anything above 50mm objective lenses, makes the binoculars impractically large to carry in a patrol bag, in my opinion.

    So for me, a decent pair of 7x50 binoculars was the sweet spot. They erased shadows at night to a remarkable degree, I could see MUCH further than I could with night vision, I could see color, I had depth perception, the image was relatively stable, they fit in my patrol bag, and I could afford them.

    I did consider trying 8x56 and/or 10x70 binoculars, but their larger size and increased cost would have been an issue, and I retired before I got around to it.

    When I went to go shop for binoculars, I made a list of the ones that I was considering, went to a large optics store, took a number of them into their large upstairs storage area, turned off the lights, waited for my eyes to relax and open up, and then started comparing them in the dark, starting from cheapest to most expensive, and taking my time. I was there all afternoon. When I got to the point that I could no longer discern an improvement in low-light capabilities as compared to prohibitively expensive binoculars, I purchased that pair.
    Last edited by Aidokea; 01-06-2023, 10:04 AM.

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    • #3
      NVGs are a game changer working LE. I use them on calls and on patrol. I prefer the PVS-14 style monocular over my support side eye because I can drop it in my cargo pocket and it keeps my dominant eye still acclimated to the darkness. In my experience, buy at least a Generation 3 tube for LE applications. That's a sweet spot where visual quality meets affordability. I have old style green NVGs and white phosphorus NVGs. The white is nice, but I'm not sure the price difference.

      For all the challenges stated above, I guarantee he has very little use with them. Buy a set of PVS-14 (mil-spec with adjustable gain) with at least Gen 3 tube so your getting quality. With training, you will be able to walk and function just fine. Limited resolution, limited distance, lack of color, and lack of depth perception will not be an issue.

      If I'm working with someone, I have an extra set I let them use.....but I'm guessing you wont have that luxury. What I've done when that is not an option, I'll keep that person with me to surveill the target. Before I approach the target, I will put them behind the glass so they know what I am seeing. Once they are good, I'll take my glass back and do what I need to do. NVGs magnify the ambient light already present, so you'll be amazed at what more you can see.

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      • #4
        Some thoughts:

        Does your agency have a policy regarding this. Along those lines, it is one thing to be using night vision for surveillance or looking for a missing person, and a very different matter to be using night vision while approaching a suspect. If using night vision other than for long range surveillance, have you ever trained with the night vision? Have you shot while wearing night vision? Just some things to consider.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by wildstar82 View Post
          NVGs are a game changer working LE. I use them on calls and on patrol. I prefer the PVS-14 style monocular over my support side eye because I can drop it in my cargo pocket and it keeps my dominant eye still acclimated to the darkness. In my experience, buy at least a Generation 3 tube for LE applications. That's a sweet spot where visual quality meets affordability. I have old style green NVGs and white phosphorus NVGs. The white is nice, but I'm not sure the price difference.

          For all the challenges stated above, I guarantee he has very little use with them. Buy a set of PVS-14 (mil-spec with adjustable gain) with at least Gen 3 tube so your getting quality. With training, you will be able to walk and function just fine. Limited resolution, limited distance, lack of color, and lack of depth perception will not be an issue.

          If I'm working with someone, I have an extra set I let them use.....but I'm guessing you wont have that luxury. What I've done when that is not an option, I'll keep that person with me to surveill the target. Before I approach the target, I will put them behind the glass so they know what I am seeing. Once they are good, I'll take my glass back and do what I need to do. NVGs magnify the ambient light already present, so you'll be amazed at what more you can see.
          Lol.

          Try buying an actual mil-spec AN/PVS-14 with an NSN number for individual civilian ownership, that isn't stolen from the U.S. military.

          Or two of them, like you suggested. According to Wikipedia, the per-unit price in 1996 was $4,650 EACH. That would translate to about $9,000 each today, or $18,000 for two of them...if you could even buy them. If you're buying them for $2K a pop, they're stolen from the U.S. military.

          Most PVS-14s on the market, even the ones advertised as "military GRADE" are not mil-spec AN/PVS-14s. They are civilian "PVS-14"s, assembled by who knows who, often out of parts rejected from actual mil-spec AN/PVS-14s. That's why they're only $3,000-$4,000 each.

          It is a physical impossibility to have binocular night vision through one tube. And without binocular vision, there is no depth perception.

          Night vision resolution IS worse- it's even listed in the specs.

          As is distance vision.

          My younger brother is the one that educated me on this stuff before I tried it out myself. He was an elite U.S. Army airborne commando, went to Ranger School, and finished up doing OPFOR training at the JRTC at Ft. Polk in Louisiana, against all manner of NATO special forces. They would sleep all night, and when they heard people stumbling through the woods running into stuff, tripping, bumping into each other, and generally just making a bunch of noise, they'd have one or two guys light them from behind cover up with $19 rechargable Q-Beam spotlights they got from Walmart, shoot everybody, take all their stuff, and go back to sleep. He said that over-reliance on high technology like night vision, creates a false sense of capabilities- he suggested trying to operate in the woods with one eye closed and the other looking through a toilet paper tube with green cellophane over the end, and see how you do.
          Last edited by Aidokea; 12-17-2022, 11:59 AM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Aidokea View Post

            Lol.

            Try buying an actual mil-spec AN/PVS-14 with an NSN number for individual civilian ownership, that isn't stolen from the U.S. military.

            Or two of them, like you suggested. According to Wikipedia, the per-unit price in 1996 was $4,650 EACH. That would translate to about $9,000 each today, or $18,000 for two of them...if you could even buy them. If you're buying them for $2K a pop, they're stolen from the U.S. military.

            Most PVS-14s on the market, even the ones advertised as "military GRADE" are not mil-spec AN/PVS-14s. They are civilian "PVS-14"s, assembled by who knows who, often out of parts rejected from actual mil-spec AN/PVS-14s. That's why they're only $3,000-$4,000 each.

            It is a physical impossibility to have binocular night vision through one tube. And without binocular vision, there is no depth perception.

            Night vision resolution IS worse- it's even listed in the specs.

            As is distance vision.

            My younger brother is the one that educated me on this stuff before I tried it out myself. He was an elite U.S. Army airborne commando, went to Ranger School, and finished up doing OPFOR training at the JRTC at Ft. Polk in Louisiana, against all manner of NATO special forces. They would sleep all night, and when they heard people stumbling through the woods running into stuff, tripping, bumping into each other, and generally just making a bunch of noise, they'd have one or two guys light them from behind cover up with $19 rechargable Q-Beam spotlights they got from Walmart, shoot everybody, take all their stuff, and go back to sleep. He said that over-reliance on high technology like night vision, creates a false sense of capabilities- he suggested trying to operate in the woods with one eye closed and the other looking through a toilet paper tube with green cellophane over the end, and see how you do.
            Thank you for proving my point of, "he has very little use with them."

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            • #7
              Originally posted by JPA669 View Post
              So I know some departments issue clip on night vision for their tactical units. Just curious if you are issued NV, if you use them on normal patrol as well for some calls? If you do, how do you implement it to the other people on your shift who aren't issued night vision.

              I def see this as a benefit to sneaking up on certain houses or looking for a suspect, but just want other's two cents. Thanks.
              Consider finding some grant money for the purchase or look into any DRMO programs close to you if you or your department don't have the funds.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by wildstar82 View Post
                Consider finding some grant money for the purchase or look into any DRMO programs close to you if you or your department don't have the funds.
                My department plays the DRMO game. The equipment is mostly trash, especially stuff like optics and lights...the military generally only gives away outdated equipment and stuff that has been beat to hell. You may, on very rare occasion, find a jewel in the piles of manure, but I wouldn't hold my breath. DRMO is generally a playground for admins and part-time ninjas who think "military issue" is cool.

                We have some old night vision from DRMO. It's probably Vietnam-era (maybe first Gulf War if you're lucky).
                "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
                -Friedrich Nietzsche

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                • #9
                  OP, how much money were you planning on spending on this particular patrol accessory?

                  Because no department is going to pony up for night vision equipment for all patrol officers.

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                  • #10
                    We used to work Operation Stonegarden with the US Border Patrol. After their briefing, we'd checkout NVGs. OMG, they took the night away, but still allowed us the cover of darkness. It was hard to turn them in at the end of the shift due to how effective they were. I researched night vision, and I'd see several models at the local stores - none were EVER nearly as effective as the models I used with the USBP. Some of our guys purchased those lesser versions, and ended up not using them after a while.

                    We don't have night vision, but we do have a small handheld FLIR unit for our night shifters. I'm on days right now, but I could ask for one when I do rotate back. Also, I remember on one call, they used the unit which showed two bodies had just laid on the bed, so we knew the girlfriend was lying when she said her boyfriend/wanted subject wasn't there. Yep, he was found hiding inside, and they unit helped on that.

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