With our nation’s law enforcement coming under heightened scrutiny every day, the national conversation is increasingly turning to the question of police body cameras. Here at TASER, we are deeply concerned with the lives of law enforcement officers and the lives of the people they serve and we have let that concern act as a guidepost over the course of our company’s more than 20-year history. From the original TASER device to the Axon Flex body-mounted camera we have striven to produce technology that is attuned to the needs of our partners in law enforcement. We are proud of our technologies and we believe in our technologies’ capacity to protect life. With this in mind, I am excited to announce our Standard Issue Grant Program that offers up to $400 per officer for police agencies who are making TASER Smart Weapons and/or Axon body cameras standard issue for all officers within their department or agency.
We’ve budgeted 40 million dollars for law enforcement and public safety agencies over the course of the next year, with the aim of equipping one-hundred thousand patrol officers and all new officers graduating law enforcement academy with standard-issue TASER devices and body cameras.
Though police body cameras are a relatively new technology, their effects have already been studied extensively, which is how we know that this technology has such a dramatic impact on officer and community safety. A study by the University of Cambridge focused on the Rialto, California Police Department found that the presence of body-worn cameras on police officers led to a 59% reduction in use of force as well as an 87% reduction in complaints compared to the previous year. Further studies, some of which will be released in the coming weeks and months, also demonstrate a decrease in court overtime and an increase in convictions following the adoption of body cameras.
While cameras have been shown to reduce use of force, TASER Smart Weapons have been shown to reduce injuries among officers and community members by more than 50%. Some watchdog groups have expressed worry about the potential for improper Smart Weapon use, but we believe that that’s exactly the type of problem our body cameras are designed to prevent. Our technologies, in other words, work best as an integrated system. TASER Smart Weapons, Axon body cameras, and our digital evidence management system EVIDENCE.com (think of it as iTunes for Police Departments⎯lots of data from different devices gets collected into one secure, easy-to-use system), when integrated, create a system that can greatly amplify the good done by any technology on its own, from reducing use of force and injuries to streamlining legal proceedings.
Like I’ve said, I’m proud of our technologies. And I am convinced that they should be standard issue. It’s 2015 and the time is ripe for police departments to modernize. When an officer on patrol is issued a gun, body armor, a baton, and a radio, I believe that officer should also be issued a TASER Smart Weapon and a camera. That, in a nutshell, is the goal of the TASER Standard Issue Grant Program. The grants will come in three tiers:
• Level 1: $100 per officer for Smart Weapon or Axon camera with extended warranty
• Level 2: $200 per officer for Smart Weapon or Axon camera with TASER Assurance Plan enrollment (includes Smart Weapon upgrade every 5 years, Axon camera upgrade every 2.5 years)
• Level 3: $400 per officer for Officer Safety Plan enrollment
These grants are meant to help any agents of public safety, from large police forces down to much smaller operations, and can be used either to start equipping officers with smart weapons and cameras or to expand existing programs. All are welcome to apply, and can do so by going to this page: info.taser.com/sig. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly at [email protected]. If you have any suggestions to make about how we at TASER can be better partners to law enforcement, feel free to drop us a line, and be sure to keep an eye out for big, disruptive technology announcements from TASER in the coming months.
Thanks for all you do, and stay safe.
The San Diego Police Department recently released a report showing the use of AXON body-worn video cameras by TASER International (NASDAQ: TASR) has led to fewer complaints by residents and less use of force by officers. The report that was developed by the Police Department for the City Council’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee showed that complaints fell 41%, total allegations were reduced by 60% and use of “personal body” force by officers dropped by 47%. The use of pepper spray was also reduced by 31%. The results from this study reflect comparisons to prior periods in which body-worn cameras were not deployed.
The San Diego Police Department currently deploys 600 AXON body and flex cameras to their police officers and uses TASER’s cloud-based platform, EVIDENCE.com to efficiently store and manage the data from their cameras and other digital devices. The department plans to have nearly 1,000 officers, including patrol officers, gang-unit officers and motorcycle officers equipped with body cameras by the end of 2015.
“The body cameras have proven to be a positive game-changer for our department and the San Diego community,” says San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman. “We find the cameras to be a win-win for our officers and citizens and we look forward to continued success with our body-worn video program here in San Diego.”
“This is meaningful data from a large scale deployment of body-worn cameras at a major city and we are very encouraged by the positive results and significant impact the body cameras have shown to have on a police force and community,” said Rick smith, CEO and Founder of TASER. “We hope the results from this study will help guide other cities, counties and law enforcement agencies who are considering updating their technology to help improve transparency and community relations.”
Similar body-worn camera studies have been conducted at other police departments in recent years including one by Cambridge University at the Rialto, CA Police Department that showed an 88% reduction in citizen complaints and a 60% reduction in uses of force. Another study by Arizona State University at the Mesa Police Department revealed a 48% reduction in citizen complaints and a 75% decline in use of force complaints.
TASER’s AXON cameras are small, yet highly visible, and can be attached securely to sunglasses, a cap, a shirt collar, or a head mount. They are powered by a pocket-sized battery pack, which ensures recording capability during an entire shift. When recording, the cameras capture a wide-angle, full-color view of what an officer is facing. The video automatically uploads via a docking station to EVIDENCE.com, a cloud-based storage and management system, where it can be easily accessed for review. The video files stored online or on the AXON video camera are secure and cannot be tampered with.
EVIDENCE.com helps law enforcement capture, manage, and share their digital evidence without the complexity or cost of installing in-house servers. It enables greater transparency through seamless integration with the industry-leading AXON body-worn video cameras. EVIDENCE.com is the most secure, scalable, and cost-effective solution for managing all types of digital evidence. EVIDENCE.com automates the upload process to ensure security and integrity while keeping officers in the field rather than sitting at computers.
Our team of account managers has helped dozens of agencies deploy body-worn cameras. They’ve seen what works—and what doesn’t. Here are a few tips they’ve picked up along the way that may help you avoid obstacles during your own implementation.
We’ll gladly add to this list of tips as we come across other Do’s and Don’ts in the field. For now, feel free to drop us a line in the comments if you have any to add or ask about.
TASER recently expanded our RISE campaign through a video that celebrates women in law enforcement. Check it out!
We had a blast making this video, so we wanted to share some of the behind the scenes action with you.
Our RISE campaign has been well received this year, and we’ve been very fortunate that the message resonates with our partners in law enforcement. As a way to expand on this idea, we looked to an emerging group of leaders in law enforcement: women. As more women join agencies around the world and law enforcement becomes more diverse, we wanted to speak directly to them with our “Keep Rising” message. This video was a way to pay tribute to the hard work of female officers who are increasingly representing the changing face of law enforcement.
Shooting the Video
To shoot the video, we headed down to Tucson, Arizona to the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives (NAWLEE) annual conference. We set up a booth at the conference to inform the attendees of what we were doing and recruit them to be a part of a video shoot. We scheduled time with interested participants in a ballroom/studio, during which we asked them questions in order to understand why they got into law enforcement and how it feels to be a women in law enforcement. We then had participants read through a script, which created the patchwork narrative that you see in the video.
Through the interview and script readthrough, we were able to see what being an officer meant to them and how they rise to the challenges that come with the job. We were really inspired by their stories and honored by their willingness to be part of our work.
We were fortunate to have participants from around the country, and involved command staff and patrol officers alike. There were some similarities to their motivations for being an LEO (most simply said they wanted to help people) and what unique strengths they felt they brought to the table (“communication and empathy” were a running theme), but what we learned was that the women of law enforcement are as diverse as the profession they represent. One of the most amazing parts of the process was seeing how these women answered more personal questions about who they were outside of law enforcement. We were able to get to learn what drives them in not only their careers, but also in their personal life. We always enjoy hearing directly from our law enforcement partners, and this was no exception.
We hope you enjoy the video. Feel free to ‘like’ our Facebook page and share it to show your support for the women who are rising to the challenges of law enforcement every day.
Law enforcement agencies are in the midst of a seismic technological change with the introduction of on-body cameras and the influx of digital evidence that these generate. The push for public transparency and accountability in the wake of a number of incidents such as Ferguson, have spurred increased focus on rapidly adopting this technology. With new technology, comes opportunity for evolution in policies and legislation. In an isolated case, Washington State recently gained media attention around an anonymous citizen who has made blanket requests for all digital evidence collected by various police departments around the sate, including body camera footage. The request was made under WA state’s public-records law, which require police departments to release any public record that isn’t tied to an active investigation. Such requests can be both time consuming and costly for any one department. The anonymous citizen has said that he made the requests in an effort to expose the flaws in the current policies prior to widespread adoption in the state. While interesting timing considering the tipping point that the market is experiencing in the adoption of this technology, we think its important to look at the broader market when considering the current state of affairs in Washington.
First, law enforcement has been balancing the issue of public transparency versus privacy concerns since the 1990′s when in-car camera systems first were introduced. With the introduction of in-car cameras, law enforcement agencies were first faced with the issues of privacy concerns in the face of public transparency. These agencies were able to work through the policies and workflows for that technological change and we are confident that they will be able to do the same with the introduction of wearables. Further, EVIDENCE.com, the digital evidence management solution sold by TASER, contains tools that are useful in scenarios such as this. EVIDENCE.com has advanced redaction features, a key tool to reducing the burden of selectively blurring or muting sensitive information cited as a challenge by agencies in Washington state. While this tool does require some officers’ time to utilize, it is a more elegant and time-saving tool than traditional redaction procedures.
There are other states that have set precedence for how to deal with situations such as what Washington State is dealing with at present. Pennsylvania and New Jersey both changed their laws in order for the on-officer camera adoption to proceed smoothly. Just today, the Attorney General in Washington State came out with guidance that police do not need permission to record their interactions with the public via body cameras. Washington law requires two-party consent to record private conversations, but that standard does not apply to public ones and it has now been determined that interactions happening via body camera are inherently public. There are numerous policies that are beneficial to the widespread adoption of body cameras, and while TASER defers to the agency on how best to interpret these laws, we remain committed to working with legislators and policy makers to ensure the best implementation possible for their constituents.
While the specific open records issue in Washington State is currently in the spotlight, TASER believes that this is a relatively isolated scenario that will not be a major blocker to agencies adopting body cameras on a national level given that body cameras have been deployed in all fifty states with the largest states in the country, such as Texas, California, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ohio moving forward with the rollout of on-body video. Washington state represents approximately 2% of the current addressable domestic market and while some of the larger agencies, such as the Seattle Police Department, may take a slower approach to ensure they can handle these types of evidentiary requests in a manner that meets their public disclosure laws while staying efficient from a time and resource perspective, this is typical for a larger agency undergoing a new technology implementation and we are confident that they can come to a positive conclusion for all parties.
In essence, there has been widespread support for the adoption of body cameras among both law enforcement groups and citizen groups like the ACLU (“American Civil Liberties Union’). Communities across the nation have seen the benefits from their officers wearing body-worn cameras including increased transparency, financial savings and safer communities. More than 13 major cities have implemented a body-worn video program and with another 35 major cities in active discussions or trials at present and this is a trend that we see continuing into 2015 and beyond.
This blog post contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”) including statements about the trend of public policies regarding privacy concerns and the evolution of technological tools. We intend that such forward-looking statements be subject to the safe-harbor provided by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The forward-looking information is based upon current information and expectations regarding TASER International, Inc. These estimates and statements speak only as of the date on which they are made, are not guarantees of future performance, and involve certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions that are difficult to predict. TASER International assumes no obligation to update the information contained in this press release.