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What's Behind Axon's Free-For-All Police Body Cam Offer?

Axon, a company that makes body cameras and Tasers, is offering body cameras to all U.S. police officers for free for one year.
Posted at 6:01 PM, Apr 05, 2017

One of the most dominant police body camera companies now says it wants to put body cams on every U.S. police officer for free. 

Axon, formerly TASER International, announced Tuesday it's offering cameras, tech support and storage to the hundreds of thousands of law enforcement officers free of cost for one year. 

Axon's CEO Rick Smith said in a release he wants to "empower police officers to more safely and effectively do their jobs," adding that the cameras could reduce "the need for endless paperwork." 

This move definitely isn't just about reducing paperwork, though. The company's body camera and surveillance tech division brought in $65 million in revenue in 2016 — up nearly 86 percent from the year before. And the prospect of having more police departments sign on after their yearlong trial probably isn't a bad look either. 

Police body cameras have provided visuals of some of the most intense officer-citizen interactions, often showing the moments when police choose to use force. 

But financial cost has had an impact on adoption. In a 2013 survey, which included 254 police departments, 39 percent of those departments said they don't use cameras because of how much they cost. 

Smith told The Huffington Post that the company's body cam pledge and name change is a way to move on from the negative connotations of Tasers. 

According to Axon, a police department could begin the one-year free trial this month, and departments can opt out of the offer at any time.