By: Wes Jackson
In an “electrifying” announcement on Wednesday, Taser changed its name to Axon Enterprise, Inc. and offered every law enforcement agency in the United States free body cameras for a year. Per the terms of the offer, each agency that agrees to the “National Field Trial” will receive an Axon Body 2 body camera for each of its officers, along with the necessary accessories and a one-year license to Axon’s digital evidence data storage on Evidence.com.
Axon’s CEO explained that the company decided to switch its brand name from the household name for stun guns to the moniker of its body camera line to reflect its evolution from a less-lethal weapons company to a “full solutions provider of cloud and mobile software, connected devices, wearable cameras, and now artificial intelligence.”
Law enforcement agencies should carefully consider Axon’s offer. While the offer would immediately provide a very useful tool to agencies and their officers, accepting the offer could require agencies to re-evaluate their policing and document retention policies and procedures. For instance, Georgia law requires agencies to retain body camera recordings that are a part of criminal investigation or show an auto accident, arrest, or use of force for 30 months—a period that exceeds Axon’s offer to store such footage at no charge for only one year. The terms of Axon’s offer state that Axon will provide agencies with all data its body cameras recorded at the end of the trial period. However, agencies should determine before agreeing to the trial whether they have the means and capacity to store that data at the end of the trial period and, if not, whether they are prepared to pay Axon for continued use of its digital evidence storage system to comply with applicable retention policies and statutes.
Axon’s aggressive business move will likely make body cameras standard equipment in many law enforcement agencies across the nation. Agencies should respond by ensuring that their policies and practices keep pace with this ever-advancing technology. If you have any questions about your agency’s policies or the use of police body cameras, please feel free to contact Wes Jackson at [email protected].