In a quest to maximize public trust and improve accountability, police departments have been purchasing body cameras for their officers.
The outcry for body cameras was sparked by the death two unarmed black men, Michael Brown and Erik Garner, killed by white police officers.
TASER, a Scottsdale-based smart weapons and technology development company for law enforcement, is in the process of beta testing their next generation of the AXON Flex using signal wireless activation technology with the Mesa Police Department and other agencies around the country.
Currently the AXON Flex cameras require the officer to physically turn on the camera to begin recording.
With this next generation, the body camera activation can be wired to different parts of the vehicle, such as the light bar, siren, airbag or doors, and their Taser Smart Weapon (X2), and will automatically begin recording once activated. The recording will continue until the camera is manually turned off.
The technology will also allow for multiple angles to be captured if more than one officer with an AXON Flex is on-scene. The 30 second recording before and after activation currently available on AXON Flex will continue to be a feature for the next gen.
After an incident, the data will automatically upload to the TASER’s EVIDENCE cloud-based platform once the equipment is docked.
I reached out to the Mesa PD for comment and haven’t heard back as of this post.
While there are no photos of the next generation for the public, a reporter from KXAN in Austin, caught up with their police department who is also beta testing the equipment for a sneak peek. From what I gather, it appears to look just like the current AXON Flex on the market.
Since the incidents of Brown and Garner and President Obama’s Body Worn Camera Partnership Program, TASER has reported a significant increase in orders of their flagship body camera AXON and digital evidence management system EVIDENCE from police departments around the country, including ones from Arizona.
With the use of body cameras, police departments have shown a significant reduction in use of force. TASER reports over 3,000 agencies have purchased AXON body cameras and 18,000 agencies have purchased Smart Weapons.
In a pilot study conducted by Arizona State University in collaboration with the Mesa Police Department, reports revealed a 75 percent drop in use of force complaints among officers when using AXON body cameras. More recently, a 14-month study conducted by the San Diego police department they realized a 47 percent reduction in the use of force by using body cams.
TASER continues to optimize their software products to agencies. In May 2015, Taser announced they entered into a definitive agreement to acquire MediaSolv, a digital evidence management SaaS company for law enforcement, for $13 million. This technology will be used to help TASER expand their EVIDENCE.com platform and provide an end-to-end solution for officers to manage their digital data.
TASER Smart Weapons have also been on the invoices of many police departments. Last year, TASER released their latest version of SMART WEAPONS, electrical weapons, with the X2 and X26P. These devices have the option for a TASER CAM HD attachment to record the details of any draw or deployment.
Since our last report, these Arizona police departments have purchased body and Flex cams and upgraded their Smart Weapons:
- Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office purchased 700 AXON Flex body cameras as well as 700 five-year Unlimited and RMS Integration licenses to EVIDENCE (February)
- Scottsdale Police Department purchased 40 AXON body and Flex camera and five-year subscription of EVIDENCE (January) and upgraded 474 X2 and added TASER Assurance Plan (May)
- Arizona Department of Corrections purchased 60 X2s and Officer Safety Plan (June) and 81 X2s (May)
- Phoenix Police Department purchased 300 X2s (April)
- Tucson Police Department purchased 70 AXON and Flex cameras with five years of EVIDENCE.com and TASER Assurance Plan (March)
Read more about TASER at AZ Tech Beat
Graphics provided by TASER and video by KXAN
The author of this article has a tiny amount of stock in TASER