Police testing gun camera

 Images Gun Cameras Southern California New York police will soon begin field testing this "pistol cam" that mounts to the barrel of a service revolver pistol. Cameras that mount on guns are not new, but this particular model will be deployed for tests over the next few months within the Orange County's sheriff's emergency service team and the Newburgh Police Department. According to WREX-TV, the president of the city of Newburgh's police union doubts that the officers will be happy about the new system. I fear looking at YouTube once the street finds its own use for these things.

UPDATE: In the Discussion, Ed G. kindly points out that the Times Herald-Record has a much more detailed story about the PistolCam. Link


  1. I admittedly don’t know much about guns, but that can’t be good for your aiming ability. I’m not sure why a camera and light have to be so cumbersome on a gun when you can fit them in a pair of glasses.

  2. That’s probably Newburgh, Orange County, New York, but the story’s from an Illinois station, so I can’t be certain.

  3. that mounts to the barrel of a service revolver.

    The picture shows it on a service pistol, not a revolver. Most newly manufactured service pistols have a rail under the barrel for attaching lights. I know of no revolvers that do.

    I admittedly don’t know much about guns, but that can’t be good for your aiming ability.

    Nah, it affects it somewhat, maybe, but that’s what practice is for, right? I have one pistol with a rail and I noticed no difference with it on or with it off.

    I’m not sure why a camera and light have to be so cumbersome on a gun when you can fit them in a pair of glasses.

    Two reasons that I can think of: 1) You’d want long battery life on this (figure the average cop turns the camera on at the start of his shift and turns it off at the end, so it’s gotta go for 8 hours or so “on”[otherwise they’d all just “forget” to turn on the camera]). The current bright ass lights that mount under pistols are roughly that size and have about an hours worth of super bright light before you have to swap the batteries out. And 2) it needs to be rugged enough to survive the average cops day, and an un-average day of being dropped, slammed into walls, thrown about in a car crash, etc. and still keep on tickin’.

    How do you holster (and draw!) a gun like that?

    There are two choices. One is to keep the light/camera in a cellphone-like holster on the belt and attach it after the pistol is drawn (although that’s a bad idea). The other is to have a holster made which will fit the gun with the light/camera attached. There are several out there already which fit popular service pistol/light combos. If this catches on you can bet that the police equipment manufacturers will all come out with something soon.

    I think it’s a great idea, the light/camera combo. I think we all agree that the dashboard cams have been a Good Thing, I think this will be an even better thing.

  4. I think this is a great idea but that does seem like it might interfere with the quick drawing of the weapon. If its light and the holster is properly designed it should work well.

    I wonder how you effectively field test something like this when those using it in the field may well be quite hostile to its adoption.

  5. @Gandalf23, Thanks for the pistol vs. revolver correction!

    @Ed G, Thanks for the link to the much better newspaper story on this! I updated my post.

  6. It would be nice to lighten it up with a smaller battery. You could have a larger battery in the holster that keeps it charged and drawing the gun could automatically turn on the device.

  7. “I admittedly don’t know much about guns, but that can’t be good for your aiming ability.”

    it can’t be that bad for it either. adjusting to the weight might change the way you bring the weapon to bear, but shouldn’t affect aim. lots of weapons have optional add ons, flashlights, laserscopes etc. The unit doesn’t weigh that much.

    its funny this was posted, i totally said that something like this should be developed in a boing boing comments section a few weeks ago. It makes so much sense.

  8. I agree, my fellow cephalopod. I think there’s no reason to have such a cumbersome battery on the barrel. If it can’t be charged in the holster, at least put it inside the handle.

  9. I agree that this camera makes a lot of good sense. No more “Police said X but bystanders observed Y” scenarios in instances where it is drawn and possibly even used. In a society where many states are removing the right to record video publicly, I am starting to worry that law enforcement is going to become less and less accountable.
    Make no mistake, good cops will welcome this as a tool that help corroborate their account of a dangerous event, but bad cops will try and find ways to work around it (increase in taser use?)

  10. Am I the only one picturing:

    Officer: “Freeze!”

    Thief: “Eek! The police!”

    Officer: “Put your han… wait a minute.”


    Officer: (fiddles)


    Officer: *click* Damn.

    Thief: I think you have to press it halfway to focus.

    Officer: I did press it!

    Thief: No, only halfway.

    Officer: Like this? *click*

    Thief: No, no, you just took another picture.

    Officer: Oh, I see what you mean. OK. Hang on.


    Officer: Move a little to the right.

    Thief: But then I’m staring right into the sun!

    Officer: But if you’re facing the other way, the sun’s in the camera. That’s no good. It won’t come out.

    Thief: How about here? (squints) I think I can stand here for a few seconds.

    Officer: Perfect. Put your hands up. 3.. 2.. ::click::

    Thief: Whenever you’re ready.

    Officer: No, I took the picture already.

    Thief: I didn’t see the flash go off.

    Officer: The little lightning bolt is lit up, though.

    Thief: Yeah, but the flash didn’t go off.

  11. I confidently predict that these cameras will be found to have failed in the vast majority of cases where they would have recorded something the police officers wouldn’t have liked.

    It’s like I’m freakin’ Kreskin or something.

  12. I know quite a bit about firearms and I think these are a horrible idea. They would encourage officers to draw and point their weapons to capture video of a situation which does not warrant deadly force. People will be accidentally shot due to them.

    Also, I am sure they won’t often capture what they should have when it matters, both because they weren’t pointing at it (officer is exhibiting safe use of firearm) and because they are…. uhmm… damaged sometimes when it suits a dirty cops ends.

  13. One thing this post does not mention that’s in the original article is that the gun-cam is part of a larger overall suite of cameras (shoulder mounted and dash mounted) which collectively attempt to document a full encounter. So it’s not a situation where the only thing seen after the fact is the gun cam activating and the suspect being shot.

  14. Some of the above comments assume that the primary purpose of said device would be to police the police. Not true. Guncams would be an extension of copcarcams that have been used overwhelmingly to assist in prosecution, not in catching bad cops. A few bad cops have been caught, of course, and those are the scenarios we hear about not because they are the norm but because the opposite is true.

    A secondary very useful purpose is in training new cops. Copcarcams have resulted in tons of video that would be very interesting to an aspiring police officer but wouldn’t make YouTube because the reality is that the vast majority of cops are good and the vast majority of what cops do is really boring.

  15. Thebes, if you also knew a lot about law enforcement you would know that attaching a camera to a gun wouldn’t increase the likelihood of said gun being removed from the holster. The same rules apply in which an officer is trained to only pull the gun when in a situation that appears to be dangerous or has historically proven to be dangerous.

  16. Sadly in Orange County police discharge things other than their firearms (mildly NSFW description). I’m waiting for the appropriate guncam for this problem.

  17. Okay- so this is geeky. However, this morning I walked to my newspaper box, and there was a story on the cover about cameras on guns.

    I went to school, blah blah. I come home, jump on the RSS reader and lo and behold- the blogosphere buzzing about this news. And it’s happening right next door to me (figuratively).

    Obviously this is not a feeling you silicon valley-ers get to feel very often. All kinds of awesome shit happens right next to you guys.

    However when the backwoods not-new-york-city not-southern-california Orange County (where I live) gets talked about, I feel so close to celebrity that my heart goes a little bit faster.

    Thanks for making my heart go a little bit faster.

  18. I don’t think it would screw up aiming. Guns are heavy, and most of the weight is in the handle, where the clip inserts. (Incidentally, that’s why you couldn’t put the batteries there, #11.)

    There are plenty of things that go on the end of firearms: flashlights, laser pointers, bayonets, grenade launchers. Granted those last two aren’t common on pistols :) Still, it would only take one training session to overcome any difference in weight, and it would affect speed rather than accuracy anyways.

    That being said, there are plenty of custom designed holsters for Gun X with Option Y, so I’m sure that there’s one for this combination too.

  19. ICKY200 said
    “The same rules apply in which an officer is trained to only pull the gun when in a situation that appears to be dangerous or has historically proven to be dangerous.”


    I have personally observed the local sheriff’s dept pointing 3 AR-15 or M16 (couldn’t see da switch with my binoculars) for no reason at all. Someone walked the main road there over 100 yards from them. That person was a 60-some-year old woman who posed no danger in anyone’s imagination. They did this to several people throughout the day while crawling on top of a building, trying to look through holes, and waiting for the pot related warrant.

    I guess all cops follow their training? Around here they sometimes enter dwellings without a warrant or p/c saying things like “I am the LAW you hippie!” (heard that one myself too)

  20. Bad idea for two reasons.

    1. When a cop has to make a split second decision he doesn’t need to worry that he can’t get his gun out of his holster quickly and easily.

    2. This doesn’t record the events leading up to the gun being drawn. Basically, you only get half the story.

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