POLICE Magazine

AUG 2018

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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O PoliceMag.com 43 SWAT officers equipped with night vision goggles have an advantage when entering a darkened building. PHOTOS: ABBOUD BEDRO On May 1, 2011, two MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters stealthily flew in the cover of darkness into Pakistani airspace. ese were no ordinary helicopters, and nei- ther were their pilots nor the passengers riding along inside. ey were American Nav y SEALs and support personnel. And one of the things they all had in com- mon is that they were all wearing night vision goggles. at mission involved the Army's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and 23 SEALs from the Naval Special Warfare De- velopment Group, known as DEVGRU and better known as SEAL Team 6. ey success- fully found and killed Osama bin Laden. Like many military special operations missions, law en- forcement tactical operations often take place at night. at means all SWAT operators can benefit from having tools that will help them see better in the dark, including image intensi- fication night vision systems and thermal vision infrared devices. e value of such tools in police and military operations has been proven again and again for decades. Night vision is used in a variety of domestic law enforcement operations including aviation. For example, law enforcement pilots flying both fixed- wing aircraft and helicopters for a variety of federal agencies, including the DEA, the Border Patrol, and the FBI's storied Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) com- monly fly with night vision. Local law enforcement is another story all together. While the majority of big city SWAT teams have night vision tools, many smaller agencies don't have the budget necessary to acquire such equipment. How- ever, the cost of night vision and thermal is decreas- ing with more new technological innovations and in- creased sales. Which means night vision and thermal imaging tools are becoming more readily available. e trick is choosing the right tools for your agency. GEAR TO YOUR MISSION NIGHT VISION DEVICES Image intensification night vision equipment is mis- sion specific. So when a department is thinking about adding this equipment into its inventory, the ques- tions that must be answered are: How will the equip- ment be used and who is going to use it? Basically, night vision devices boil down to three primary types: viewers, weapons sights, and goggles. Viewers. ese are similar to standard optical spot- ting scopes only they work great at night. ey can be used for surveillance, to help identify and prevent possible attacks, and to help you locate the best ap- proach to a location. Night Vision Weapon Sights. is is a tool for the designated sniper and/or spotter. Since both sniper and spotter do a lot of mandatory intelligence gathering, so it seems logical that at least one sniper or spot- ter in a team operating in low light would be outfitted with a night vision scope. Night Vision Goggles (NVG). ese are usually worn on the heads of tactical officers and attached with a head har- ness or helmet mount. In an urban environment, you may not need a goggle for every team member. Five-officer en- try teams have accomplished their missions with as few as two devices. When allocating NVGs your priority is entry team members number one and number three. Here's why: As the number one officer makes entry, generally the number two officer throws a flash-bang, and the number three officer flows in afterward. is is the way it's done by a lot of teams, and it shows why the number one and three officers in the stack have the greatest need for NVG. ey are going to be the first officers into what is likely to be a darkened room. When performing night operations in areas with rough terrain where an officer can stumble over such hazards as rocks, fallen trees, and other ground clut- ter, night vision can be a critical safety tool. at envi- ronment calls for as many team members as possible to have NVG. ➔

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