Public Transparency vs. Privacy Concerns with Digital Evidence Highlight Need for Collaboration

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.  

 

IACP 2014: A dino-mite show




TASER recently attended the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s (IACP) annual conference, which took place from October 26th through the 28th in Orlando, Florida. Each year we try to outdo ourselves with a compelling message and booth, and this year was no exception. Our theme was “Don’t Be a Dinosaur—Evolve”, which we brought to life with stuffed dinosaur giveaways, Evolve energy drinks, and animatronic T-Rexes that wandered the show floor.

We also gave a live presentation in our booth about the accelerating pace of technology and why law enforcement needs to evolve. A video of the presentation that more than 2,000 attendees from around the country watched is above. We encourage you to think about your agency’s technology roadmap and share this with anyone who can help your agency avoid becoming a dinosaur. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or are interested in learning about how TASER is addressing these challenges.



And for those of you curious about what our booth—or the animatronic dinos—looked like, below is a short video that shows how everything came together. It will be hard to top, but the wheels are already turning for how we can go bigger next year. We hope to see you at IACP 2015!


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Police Forces From New Orleans, Norfolk, Savannah, and Miami Beach Choose TASER’s AXON and EVIDENCE.com Solution

Miami Beach First City to Outfit AXON Cameras on All Public Facing Employees Including Police, Code and Parking Enforcement and Building and Inspectors

In a press release today, TASER International (NASDAQ: TASR) announced multiple large orders of it’s AXON body-worn video cameras and EVIDENCE.com solution, a back-end digital evidence management system. These orders were received in the fourth quarter of 2014 and are expected to ship in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Significant orders were received from the following domestic agencies:

• Miami Beach Police Department (FL): 556 AXON body cameras for all public facing employees including police, code and parking enforcement, building inspectors and fire inspectors with five years of EVIDENCE.com and TASER Assurance Plan
• Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department (GA): 360 AXON flex cameras with five years of EVIDENCE.com and TASER Assurance Plan
• Norfolk Police Department (VA): 310 AXON flex cameras with five years of EVIDENCE.com and TASER Assurance Plan
• Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office (FL): 279 AXON flex cameras with five years of EVIDENCE.com and TASER Assurance Plan
• Ontario Police Department (CA): 227 AXON body cameras with five years of EVIDENCE.com and TASER Assurance Plan
• New Orleans Police Department (LA): 103 AXON body cameras with five years of EVIDENCE.com and TASER Assurance Plan
• Gadsden Police Department (AL): 83 AXON body and flex cameras with five years of EVIDENCE.com and TASER Assurance Plan
• Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office (KS): 73 AXON flex cameras
• Oxford Police Department (AL): 60 AXON flex cameras with five years of EVIDENCE.com and TASER Assurance Plan
• Colonial Heights Police Department (VA): 42 AXON flex cameras with five years of EVIDENCE.com
• Laurel Police Department (MS): 42 AXON body and flex cameras with five years of EVIDENCE.com and TASER Assurance Plan
• Talladega Police Department (AL): 41 AXON flex cameras with five years of EVIDENCE.com and TASER Assurance Plan
• Cullman Police Department (AL): 35 AXON flex cameras with five years of EVIDENCE.com and TASER Assurance Plan
• Cambridge Police Department (MD): 31 AXON flex cameras with five years of EVIDENCE.com and TASER Assurance Plan

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 pocketsize 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 police 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.

A year-long Cambridge University study conducted at the Rialto, CA Police Department investigated whether officers’ use of AXON flex cameras could bring measurable benefits to relations between police and civilians. The results showed an 88% reduction in citizen complaints and a 60% reduction in uses of force after implementation of TASER’s AXON flex cameras.

Panel Discussion: Technology and The Evolution of Public Safety

In the wake of incidents like Ferguson and Sandy Hook, how can cutting edge technology tools – from predictive policing, to background checks to body cameras – change the relationship between the police and the community, and create positive societal change? That was the topic debated by an all-star panel in the packed Surf Incubator event space on September 30th in Seattle. Seattle is home to some of the smartest and most passionate people in technology, public safety and citizen engagement. TASER’s Chief Marketing Officer Luke Larson was joined by Bret Taylor, CEO of Quip and former Facebook CTO; Hadi Partovi, CEO of Code.org; Dr. Larry Samuels, CEO of PredPol; and Zack Silk, political strategist and leader of the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility.

The panel discussed the importance of pairing technology with our civic responsibility to build a better community. Panelists also answered questions about major social issues of the day that demand our attention, and what they think will best spur the continued growth, innovation and evolution of disruptive technologies that can improve community safety.

Police transparency and accountability lead the conversation, with a focus on the use of body cameras and video storage technologies.  In the wake of the Department of Justice issuing a statement in support of the use of body cameras and video technology, coupled with a new DOJ report showing evidence that both police and civilians behave better when they know there are cameras around, why haven’t body cameras been deployed in every police department already?

“Video technology is just a part of modernizing law enforcement.  Law enforcement has been underserved by technology due in part to unfamiliarity and skepticism by police officers themselves.  But that’s the past.  It’s clear today that video technology is necessary to maintain trust with the community,” said Taylor.

“We’ve learned a lot about best practices for law enforcement since the World Trade Organization (WTO) riots in Seattle in 1999, “commented Silk. “Video technology is now one of those best practices.”

Next came strategies for reducing gun violence. All agreed: appropriate background checks, access to data and sound research on gun violence is critical to the development of effective public policies to reduce firearm injuries and death.

“Another thing to consider is access to real-time data that informs and increases personal and neighborhood safety, so folks don’t feel the need for lethal weapons.  Obviously, TASER has lead on non-lethal alternatives for the police and public for years,” remarked Partovi.

Finally, what about the rise of cloud computing and cloud data stores, especially related to video? That has created a dramatic new set of data systems and tools with a multilayered dynamic approach to crime reduction, quality of life improvement, and resource management. Today data is used to geographically map crimes and identify problems in many jurisdictions around the country. Data is used to devise strategies and tactics to solve problems, reduce crime, and ultimately improve quality of life. But what do we really mean by using “big data” in public safety and how can we appropriately use data to keep our neighborhoods healthy and safe?

Larson closed the discussion by providing examples of how EVIDENCE.com’s sharing capabilities are utilized by law enforcement, policy makers, media and the public.  “We’ve seen how that makes a difference in many jurisdictions that we work with.”

You can watch the entire Tech Panel discussion here: http://embed.vidyard.com/share/wZtr1adKpiRegN3Ix0R-wQ

 

Fresno Police Department Expands Body-Worn Camera Program with Purchase of 100 Cameras from TASER

Joins Growing List of Major Cities Deploying EVIDENCE.com 

EVIDENCE.com, a business unit of TASER International (NASDAQ: TASR) today announced the order of 100 AXON body-worn video cameras by the Fresno Police Department. The order includes a five-year subscription to EVIDENCE.com as the backend digital evidence management system.

“We continue to see positive results from the TASER AXON cameras that our officers began wearing in September of last year,” says Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer. “This technology from TASER and EVIDENCE.com has proven to be extremely effective and invaluable to our officers and the community through enhanced transparency.  I look forward to the day when every uniformed officer in Fresno PD is equipped with this technology,” concluded Chief Dyer.

“We’re thrilled to see that our AXON body-worn video cameras have a positive effect on police agencies and are ultimately making communities safer,” says Marcus Womack, General Manager of EVIDENCE.com. “The increase of data that comes along with using on-officer video makes cost-effective evidence management a challenge. We’re delighted to see that agencies, like Fresno, are putting their trust in EVIDENCE.com to securely store and manage their digital evidence.”

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 pocketsize 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 police 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.

A year-long Cambridge University study conducted at the Rialto, CA Police Department investigated whether officers’ use of video cameras could bring measurable benefits to relations between police and civilians. The results showed an 88% reduction in citizen complaints and a 60% reduction in uses of force after implementation of TASER’s AXON flex cameras.

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About TASER International, Inc.

TASER International makes communities safer with innovative public safety technologies. Founded in 1993, TASER first transformed law enforcement with its electrical weapons. TASER continues to define smarter policing with its growing suite of technology solutions, including AXON body-worn video cameras and EVIDENCE.com, a secure digital evidence management platform. More than 128,850 lives and countless dollars have been saved with TASER’s products and services.

Learn more at www.TASER.com and www.EVIDENCE.com or by calling (800) 978-2737.

TASER® is a registered trademark of TASER International, Inc., registered in the U.S. All rights reserved.TASER logo and AXON are trademarks of TASER International, Inc.

Note to Investors

Please visithttp://investor.taser.com, http://blog.taser.com, www.twitter.com/taser_ir, www.twitter.com/officialtaserand https://www.facebook.com/TASER.International where TASER discloses information from time to time about the company, its financial information, and its business.

Visit our Investor Relations Safe Harbor Statement at:   http://investor.taser.com/safeHarbor.cfm

For investor relations information please contact Erin Curtis by phone at 480-515-6330 or via email at [email protected].

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