Taser changes name, offers free body camera trial for all officers

A nondescript officer deploying a stun gun while recording the transaction with an Axon camera. (Photo: Axon)

A nondescript officer deploying a stun gun while recording the transaction with an Axon camera. (Photo: Axon)

Stun gun and body cam maker Taser International announced a name change Wednesday, and offered a one year trial of free body cameras and software for every officer in America.

According to founder and CEO Rick Smith, Taser is now Axon, the name of its popular body camera product marketed to police.

“We are changing our name from Taser to Axon to reflect the evolution of our company from a less-lethal weapons manufacturing company to a full solutions provider of cloud and mobile software, connected devices, wearable cameras, and now artificial intelligence,” Smith said in a statement.

The offer for police includes one Axon Body 2 for each sworn officer, digital storage on Evidence.com, two camera mounts per officer, a docking station to upload footage, and access to Axon’s training library — all free of charge for a year.

“Public trust in law enforcement is strained, and the actions of law enforcement officers are under a microscope,” Smith said in a video announcing the offer, adding Axon’s technology can solve those problems by helping to protect police and the public.

With Axon’s acquisition of Dextro earlier this year, Smith said advancements in artificial intelligence will mean less busy work for officers, with an expanded network of data collection and synthesis wherein video footage from body cameras is transcribed and processed into multimedia reports, a tool that could help reduce the amount of time officers spend on data entry and police reports.

“Now that officers are wearing these high definition devices that are recording these incidents in high definition video and audio, and certainly an officer could dictate their thoughts and synopsis into the video faster and probably more eloquently than they can type it on the keyboard, we believe we can unlock the report information from these videos without a police officer ever having to sit at a keyboard,” Smith said.

“In time, cameras combined with artificial intelligence will make that very manual process automatic and effortless by creating video records to replace manual forms,” he said.

The Axon website doesn’t advertise pricing, but a 2016 Law Enforcement Agency Pricing guide puts the Axon Body 2 at $399. A Taser International product page echoes that pricing for the original Axon body.

Police departments that apply can expect the trial to begin as early as this month, with smaller departments seeing start dates later this year. Axon says any department that signs up owns its own data, and will receive the data if the department decides to end the trial.