Axon, the largest manufacturer of Tasers and police surveillance equipment, announced Wednesday that it will offer free body cameras and training to all police officers in the United States.
According to CNBC, the law enforcement technology company said they plan to provide law enforcement officers with hardware, software, data storage, and training free of charge for one year.
The package includes an Axon Body 2 camera and two camera mounts per officer, unlimited storage at Evidence.com, a docking station for uploading footage securely, and full access to the company’s online training database.
“We believe these cameras are more than just tools to protect communities and the officers who serve them. They also hold the potential to change police work as we know it, by seamlessly collecting an impartial record and reducing the need for endless paperwork,” Axon founder and CEO Rick Smith said in a statement.
The business made the choice to provide these services to combat the challenging work that officers and police departments face, such as “limited resources, lack of staffing, and equipment issues.” The need also was raised upon controversy regarding police force in situations such as the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
“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.
The news release also emphasized that the body cameras would eliminate time-consuming handwritten police reports, and would help with more efficient communication.
“With this connected network of devices, apps, and people, officers can operate with confidence and focus on what matters: The people and community they serve,” Axon’s release said.
What’s in it for Axon? The company is hoping for the officers to learn how to use the devices and in return, offer advice regarding how to use them in everyday law enforcement life.
Following the rising tension between law enforcement and communities among Black Lives Matter protests and riots, there has been a tremendous request for officers to begin wearing body cameras on duty. However, there is a split vision on this technology. While some officers see the cameras as beneficial, others see it as an intrusion to their work life.
Some are against the idea, such as The Boston Association, which said in a statement, “officers wearing body cameras are no less likely to use force but are 15 percent more likely to be assaulted than officers without cameras,” citing a 2016 Rand Corp. study.
Others disagree, saying there needs to be more transparency in law enforcement, and that body camera use would be a helpful solution to controversial situations between officers and communities.
Tod Burke, a criminal justice professor at Radford University and a former Maryland police officer, told the Christian Science Monitor, “Transparency is extremely important, particularly now, when there seems to be a growing distrust between the police and the community.”
He continued, “I think more often than not, body cameras will exonerate law enforcement officers. And more often than not, they’re doing the proper thing, and they can minimize false claims against the police.”
(H/T The Blaze)