Baltimore goes with Taser International for body cameras - Technical.ly Baltimore

Civic

Jan. 19, 2016 1:13 pm

Baltimore goes with Taser International for body cameras

Police will wear the Axon camera, as long as a final deal can be negotiated.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake discusses police-worn body cameras. Feb. 19, 2015.

(Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Baltimore city officials have settled on a body camera they would like police officers to wear.

After a pilot phase in which three types of body cameras were tested in three police districts, the city has opted for Taser International’s Axon body camera. A cloud storage system for video data will be part of the package.

But it’s not a done deal yet. The choice announced at a press conference Tuesday will lead the Board of Estimates to formally open the bid submitted to the city by Taser International. Only then will the agency learn the price Taser is asking. City officials then have the option to negotiate the price. They’ve set a goal of reaching a final deal by the end of February. Asked how much was budgeted, officials declined to reveal their full hand.

“If you go into a car dealership and tell them you have $30,000 dollars to spend, they’re going to sell you a $30,000 car,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, in a press conference that was streamed via Periscope.

The choice came as a result of a pilot program where more than 155 officers in the Western, Eastern and Central police districts tried out three kinds of cameras. Police Commissioner Kevin Davis and City Purchasing Agent Tim Krus said battery life, the ability to tag information after the video was taken and the cloud storage system were among the reasons it was chosen.

Data would be kept for four years following an interaction. While Taser International will operate the storage system, the data will still be owned by the city.

Advertisement

Davis said officer feedback was incorporated into the review process, both in the form of surveys and direct feedback.

As far as how the cameras changed interactions, Davis said officers reported arrestees that were more cooperative, and crowds that dispersed more readily.

“When people know there’s a camera on the scene, they interact differently,” he said.

A Taser International body camera.

A Taser International body camera. (Courtesy photo)

Nationwide, body cameras are seen as a form of police transparency in the wake of the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Walter Scott. In the latter two cases, citizen cellphone video captured the incident. In Baltimore, citizen video footage was part of what helped prompt questions about the death of Freddie Gray, but the clip only featured a portion of the full interaction. Just as the country is looking to Baltimore in the Gray case, the police department is also under the microscope as it adopts a body camera program.

“They’re going to benchmark it off of us, undoubtedly,” Davis said of the national attention.

The pick of Taser International comes more than a year after Rawlings-Blake vetoed a City Council bill that would have outfitted officers with body cameras immediately. She addressed the calls to act quicker, saying she wanted to make sure that “Baltimore did not end up with a boondoggle wasting taxpayers money.”

“While some would have me rush in and promise to outfit all the officers within a month or two — and those calls were very loud and very persistent — this was far more complicated than simply going down to Radio Shack and grabbing cameras off the shelf,” she said.

-30-
JOIN THE COMMUNITY, BECOME A MEMBER
Already a member? Sign in here

Advertisement

Baltimore’s first ‘smart’ trash cans are arriving in South Baltimore

Baltimore police are buying an underwater robot for harbor searches

Baltimore police to begin using gunshot detection technology

SPONSORED

Baltimore

Win up to $360,000 for your startup at the WeWork Creator Awards

Baltimore

FX Well

B2B Business Development Manager

Apply Now
Baltimore, MD

SmartLogic

Content and Digital Marketing Manager

Apply Now
Baltimore, MD

Emerging Technology Centers

Assistant Director

Apply Now

Students to showcase coding projects with city’s Department of General Services

City: Cyber attack against Baltimore’s 911 computer-aided dispatch system was ransomware

Cyber breach against Baltimore’s 911 dispatch system under investigation

SPONSORED

Baltimore

How Think|Stack and Year Up are cultivating local tech talent

Baltimore

FX Well

Mobile Software Developer

Apply Now
Baltimore

Terbium Labs

DevOps Engineer

Apply Now
Baltimore

Terbium Labs

Account Executive

Apply Now

Sign-up for daily news updates from Technical.ly

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!