Taser International, the stun-gun maker emerging as a leading supplier of body cameras for police, has cultivated financial ties to police chiefs in cities whose departments have bought the recording devices, raising a host of conflict-of-interest questions, reports the Associated Press. Taser is covering airfare and hotel stays for police chiefs who speak at promotional conferences. It is hiring recently retired chiefs as consultants, sometimes just months after their cities signed contracts with Taser.
Taser is planning to send two of them to speak at luxury hotels in Australia and the United Arab Emirates this month at events where they will address other law enforcement officers considering body cameras. The relationships raise questions of whether chiefs are acting in the best interests of the taxpayers in their dealings with Arizona-based Taser, whose contracts for cameras and storage systems for the video can run into the millions of dollars. As the police chief in Fort Worth successfully pushed for the signing of a major contract with Taser before a company quarterly sales deadline, he wrote a Taser representative in an email, “Someone should give me a raise.” President Obama has proposed $75 million for departments to buy the cameras to reduce tensions between officers and the communities they serve.