A free lunch for police seeking body-cam solutions?

Taser International rebrands and moves to corner the body-worn camera market. But the cost considerations for local departments don't go away.

Taser International last week announced a corporate makeover complete with a new name: Axon.  The company also unveiled a new offer for police departments across the country to use Axon’s body-worn cameras (BWC) and cloud-based storage solution for a year at no charge.

In an effort to spur more police forces to adopt the developing technology, the company  is offering one Axon Body 2 camera per officer and one license for Evidence.com, the company’s cloud-based platform for evidence storage, case management and video and photo support.

Once the one-year trial is complete, police departments can decide whether they want to pay $399 per Axon Body 2 camera. To continue using the service, departments also would have to begin paying $15 to $89 per month per BWC for video storage; the exact price depends on how long the state or local government requires footage to be retained.

Axon uses the Microsoft’s Azure cloud-based system, which is compliant with the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Security (CJIS) Security Policy, to run Evidence.com.

Axon spokesman Steve Tuttle estimated that only 20 percent of law enforcement currently use BWCs, despite widespread support from Americans for such systems.  Two-thirds of police and 93 percent of the public think BWCs should be used to record interactions between officers and members of their communities, according to a recent Pew Research Center report.

 “At the end of the year, they can buy our system that has all of the technology stored on the cloud,” Tuttle told GCN.  “Most of this work is currently done on paper, but we want to get rid of the arcane filing systems.”

Thirty-six "major police departments" currently use Axon’s BWC technology, he said.

“Police departments need to look at their costs over the past year when it comes to the number of complaints when it comes to deciding to purchase our products,” said Tuttle.  “Once they realize that they have fewer complaints, it could pay for the purchase of the system.”

Researchers recently examined the use of BWCs at seven sites in the U.S. and U.K. Their study, released in September 2016, examined BWC use by 1.4 million officer hours across 4,264 shifts in jurisdictions with over 2 million citizens in randomized controlled trials (RCT) in 2014 and early 2015.

They determined the BWCs resulted in a 93 percent drop in citizen complaints against the police.

“Individual officers become more accountable, and modify their behavior accordingly, while the more disingenuous complaints from the public fall by the wayside once footage is likely to reveal them as frivolous,” said Barak Ariel, a University of Cambridge fellow in experimental criminology and lead author of the report.

“The cameras create an equilibrium between the account of the officer and the account of the suspect about the same event -- increasing accountability on both sides,” said Ariel.

The Baltimore County Police Department (BCoPD) signed an eight-year, $12.5 million contract with Axon for BWCs in 2015, and officials  are already seeing the upside since the cameras were first deployed in July.

“Our chief of police and county executive decided that this was a tool of the future and we needed to make an investment in these cameras and all of their associated costs,” Elise Armacost, director of the BCoPD’s public affairs section, told GCN.

Currently, the BCoPD has 518 BWCs in operation, but plans are in place for 1,435 officers to have BWCs by Sept. 30.

“It is too soon to have any meaningful data on the number of complaints, but we are already seeing a significant difference in our criminal investigations when it comes to use of force and police misconduct,” Armacost said.  “While a body camera program is not something to be entered into lightly, we feel confident based on what we have already seen that the benefits are worthwhile.”

Other police departments in the U.S. have reported a drop in the number of complaints since the BWCs were first tested.

The San Diego Police Department conducted a field study with 600 Axon BWCs in 2014.  The department found that complaints fell by 41 percent, total allegations dropped by 60 percent and the use of “personal body force” was reduced by 47 percent. These results were compared to prior periods in the department’s history when BWCs were not deployed.

"The body cameras have proven to be a positive game-changer for our department and the San Diego community," San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said.  "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."

In Birmingham, Ala., the city’s police department saw a 71 percent drop in citizen complaints two months after deploying 319 BWCs in November 2015.

However, Bryce Peterson, a senior research associate at the Urban Institute (a Washington, D.C-based think tank), told GCN there are challenges in comparing studies due to the limited number of years in which BWCs are operating and the differences in reporting complaints across departments in different jurisdictions.

“With the more cameras you have, then there’s more footage and you need to redact certain things, which does take a lot of manpower,” he said.

Peterson is in the process of reviewing preliminary findings in a study based on research from a RCT sample of 504 officers from Milwaukee from 2015, which found there was no drop in the use of force by officers wearing BWCs.

Police departments also have additional costs beyond the body cameras and the hardware when it comes to training and responding to requests from the public and law enforcement for footage.

The introduction of BWCs by the Charleston, S.C., Police Department resulted in the creation two new divisions for public safety IT which resulted in $481,400 increase in expenditures for its 2016 budget. The city has a population of 132,609.

“It really is the million dollar question on how police departments are going to be able to afford Axon’s BWCs after the one-year trial period is up,” said Peterson.  “By then, they will be used to the Evidence.com platform, and it would be difficult for them to move to another company.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.