Taser International Inc. is offering a free body camera to every police officer in the US. for a year, making a bold bet that law-enforcement agencies will choose the company’s products if given a trial, reports the Arizona Republic. The Scottsdale, Az.-based company will provide the software and hardware needed to use the cameras year to any department not already involved in a public bidding process for body cameras. The company is encouraging its competitors to make the same offer. Taser, founded in 1993, is changing its name to Axon, the name of its signature body camera. The change reflects the variety of technology it offers, which has grown beyond the original stun guns for which it is named.
The offer includes the use of an “Axon Body 2” camera and license to use the company’s evidence-collecting website, which can store and organize video from multiple officers and other information pertinent to a criminal case. The cameras retail for about $400, and licensing for the website and data storage can cost $15 to $90 a month depending on the features a police department wants to activate. The company earns more revenue from managing the substantial quantities of data collected by the cameras than from the hardware itself. “The offer is legitimate,” company founder and CEO Rick Smith said. “There is zero cost. Agencies can try this with all their officers and not pay us a dime.” The company’s camera line was launched in 2008. Interest spiked after a series of high-profile police shootings, including the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson in 2014 and fatal shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota in 2016.