"Taser is clearly positioning itself to be identified as the (only) police body-camera company, which has some potentially troubling consequences for policing". They will offer the cameras, hardware, software, data storage, training and support to departments, the company said in a statement.
A Los Angeles police officer wearing a body camera in 2014.
Sometimes, officers just don't turn the cameras on.
One city that for sure won't be taking advantage of this generous offer to expand the surveillance state is New York City. In 2016, the body camera division of Taser International brought in $65.6 million. As of press time, neither Taser/Axon or the NYPD could tell us whether the free camera offer was ever part of Taser/Axon's bid. Axon recently acquired two AI companies that will allow it to help departments more quickly redact identifying information in the video being collecting from body cameras.
"We are going "all-in" to empower police officers to more safely and effectively do their jobs and drive important social change by making body cameras available to every officer in America", Smith said. Numerous nation's largest police departments - including New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago - have signed multi-million-dollar contracts with body camera companies.
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"It's a bet on whether they can turn this captive audience and first-mover advantage into a software and services revenue stream down the road", he said.
Taser International came to prominence in the '90s selling stun guns to police departments.
The company that invented the Taser is rebranding as Axon, according to an announcement Wednesday. They can also be used in "drive stun" mode, which involves pressing the device against a person and does not incapacitate them but causes pain that is meant to force compliance.
The Axon name comes from a term referring to nerve fibers that communicate with neurons and connect nerve cells in the body.
"We want to take all the risk off the table", Smith said, which he hopes will encourage police departments to take the offer.
Axon plans to hire 80 people in Seattle in the next year, adding to the 110 employees here.