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Axon body camera
The Axon body camera is part of a technology system aimed at improving policing. (Axon Photo)

Taser International, makers of law enforcement technologies including body cameras, supporting software, and data storage, announced a new program and a change in identity on Wednesday. The company will now be called Axon, which is the name of the business unit that it runs out of Seattle.

More importantly, for law enforcement personnel across the U.S., Axon says it is launching an effort to supply every police officer in the country with a free body camera. Axon will also provide supporting hardware, software, data storage, training, and support to police departments, free of cost for one year.

Axon bills the initiative as a way to help officers operate with “confidence and focus” so that they can better serve the people and communities where they work.

“We are going ‘all-in’ to empower police officers to more safely and effectively do their jobs and drive important social change by making body cameras available to every officer in America,” Rick Smith, founder and CEO of Axon, said in a news release. “We believe these cameras are more than just tools to protect communities and the officers who serve them. They also hold the potential to change police work as we know it, by seamlessly collecting an impartial record and reducing the need for endless paperwork. That’s why we’re giving this opportunity to every single police officer in America.”

The Axon offer includes:

  • One Axon Body 2 camera per sworn officer.
  • Digital evidence data storage with an “Unlimited Pro” license.
  • Two mounts per officer.
  • Docking station to securely upload body camera footage.
  • Access to the full Axon Academy online training library.

Axon notes that the free, one-year trial offer is “not available for any law enforcement agency or its officers in which Axon is participating in a request for proposal, a process that restricts communication with that agency or its officers.” More information on the offer is available here.

The Seattle Police Department chose Axon as as its supplier of body-worn video cameras and its cloud-based digital evidence management platform last fall. An estimated 850 officers were to possibly be impacted by the new technology. But the use of video footage is still a murky affair, at least in Seattle, according to this recent post on SPD’s Blotter website.

Axon and Taser
Axon founder and CEO founder Rick Smith, right, and Axon general manager Marcus Womack in Seattle last fall.

Axon currently employs around 110 people in Seattle, with plans to hire an additional 80 in the next year. The company, home to one of the more unique office spaces in Seattle’s tech world, is also expanding to another floor in the Met Park West building on Olive Way.

In regard to the name change, Smith said it more accurately reflects the company Axon has become.

“Times are changing — and so are we,” Smith said. “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. Axon is the brand that reflects the network of devices, applications, and people that is transforming public safety. Taser will remain one of our flagship products, but now as a single focused product brand for our suite of smart weapons.”

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