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How to buy night vision
Night vision devices provide officers with the ability to see, maneuver, and shoot at night or during periods of reduced visibility. This provides a tactical advantage over your adversaries (if they are without night vision) and in turn, helps keep you safe. In short, if you can see in the night, you own the night.
When searching for a night vision device, remember these important aspects in mind:
1. Purpose: Departments and officers should identify their individual needs before shopping for their night vision devices. All SWAT teams should have some night vision units available for use by team elements tasked with perimeter security and entry interventions. Also, the SWAT counter sniper should be outfitted with a detachable night vision scope on their weapon system to further enhance their capabilities. Limited night vision units should also be made available to patrol officers so they can effectively respond to active shooter incidents that may occur in low light conditions.
2. Funding: Though it might not seem like one, securing proper funding for the units is also a determining factor in what you buy. In some states, narcotic forfeiture funds can be used to purchase these items. Also, they may fall under certain grants for purchase.
The military has a program to lease night vision devices that have been refurbished and the cost is minimal – look online for more information.
3. Image Intensifying or Thermal: There are two types of night vision systems, image intensifiers and thermals. Image-Intensifying Devices are based upon light amplification and must have some light available. Image intensifiers can amplify the available light from 2,000 to 5,000 times. Thermal Forward-Looking Infrared detectors, work by sensing the temperature difference between an object and its environment. FLIR systems are often installed on police helicopters.
The main advantage of image intensifiers are SWAT cops can conduct SWAT operations without any active illumination sources using only image intensifiers. Also, night vision devices are small in size and light weight. These attributes have enabled image intensifier goggles for head-worn, individual officers’ applications. SWAT cops can own the night to conduct SWAT operations which makes the operation safer.
4. Durability: The situations where you’ll find yourself using night vision devices won’t be safe and smooth, and you should expect your goggles, etc. to experience some wear and tear. To ensure that your device can take a beating, start your search by looking for devices that meet military specifications, which is becoming more common as our military forces continue to engage our enemies overseas.
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PoliceOne SWAT Columnist Glenn French of the Detroit Special Operations Group contributed to this report.