Taser says the new AXON system not only increases officer efficiency by reducing report documentation, it would also be a boon to officers facing false allegations and complaints as they will be able to call on irrefutable video evidence to refute such claims. Taser also believes that such evidence will prove invaluable in the courtroom by giving jurors the ability to see exactly what an officer saw.
Apart from the influx of first-hand footage available to reality cop shows that could result from the use of systems like AXON, it's likely that "always-on" recording via wearable electronic devices will become common practice outside of law enforcement scenarios. Concepts like the neck-worn PC have captured plenty of attention in recent times and - even though lets face it, most of it is going to be mundane and boring - we’ll probably be recording just about everything we do in the not too distant future.
Burnsville Police Department in Minnesota was the first agency to sign onto the system long-term. In September 2010, the agency purchased Axon units and Evidence.com system access.
"The AXON system provides the police officers view of what is occurring," said Burnsville Police Chief Bob Hawkins. "It is cutting edge technology that will bolster our case preparation, reduce court costs and eliminate false accusations against our officers. This is revolutionary technology that we are extremely excited about."
"This has been a cooperative effort with a very progressive law enforcement agency throughout an extensive test and evaluation program," said Tom Smith, Chairman and founder of TASER International. "A core mission of our company is to protect truth and this product reflects our commitment to provide innovative technologies that ensure accountability through the collection and protection of digital evidence. We know that AXON(TM) and EVIDENCE.COM(TM) will serve as powerful tools to protect truth at the Burnsville Police Department, the first law enforcement agency in the state of Minnesota to deploy this end to end digital evidence solution. Our technology will act as a force-multiplier by providing quick access to key evidence, reducing the review time of false complaints, and providing the community enhanced transparency. We anticipate that these efficiencies will ultimately save taxpayer dollars in the city of Burnsville."
In 2011, several other agencies have purchased the units, but national use is still small. "AXON and EVIDENCE.COM are cornerstones to our mission to protect truth and reflect our commitment to provide innovative technologies that ensures accountability through the collection and protection of digital evidence," said Tom Smith, Chairman and founder of TASER International. "Hennepin Technical College is the second agency in Minnesota to purchase our system, and the Darlington Police and Quapaw Tribal Marshals Service represent the first sales of evidence capture and management platforms in their respective states. Our technology will act as a force-multiplier by providing quick access to key evidence, reducing the review time of false complaints, and providing the community enhanced transparency. We anticipate that these systems ultimately will save taxpayer dollars in these communities, and also will save officers and suspects alike from false and damaging allegations," concluded Smith.
From a management point of view, Lisa Otterbacher, lieutenant and current interim chief for Whitewater PD, says it’s a great tool for administrators. Not only does it save her officers time on-scene, the video is always sitting ready to be the objective eye should a community complaint arise, for use as evidence in cases, and can uniquely provide a training opportunity to correct missteps in the field or demo practical best practices.
“The training opportunity became so valuable,” Otterbacher says.
Although Whitewater has yet to secure funds to purchase the units, it hopes to buy the system as soon as possible. While the equipment cost is not outrageous, the storage fees for access and use to the Evidence.com part of the system are and Whitewater is not able to commit to the high annual charges.
But the units are certainly missed by Uhl and the other Whitewater staff. They’ve noted interviews take longer and instead of collecting statements once on-scene with the Axon recording, the department has had to revert back to its old procedures of collecting information on scene and bringing subjects back to the department where their stationary recording equipment can be used.