AXON will also help officers create paperless incident reports. The system will let officers answer multiple choice questions on its 2.8-inch QVGA display and input data at the scene without going back to their in-car terminals or laptops. Interview notes and other information can also be dictated into the AXON for downloading in post processing.
"AXON will give police agencies the ability to focus their officers' energies on being police officers rather than report writers," Smith says. "With AXON they can assign the task of report writing to non-sworn personnel. These professionals, who are paid less than sworn personnel, can download audio-video files from the AXON system and generate reports. That means officers will spend more time on the street and less time doing paperwork."
Privacy and Protocol
The AXON computer can hold about eight hours of audio-video files, even more if the user loads a Micro-SD memory card into the device's flash memory slot. It also has a battery life of eight hours per charge.
Smith believes that eight hours will be plenty of capacity for covering the average officer's shift and even more. "Our expectation is that most agencies and police unions will not want to have officers record their entire work shift because of privacy concerns."
AXON's recording priorities are agency configurable, but most agencies will probably set up AXON like their in-car video systems with a continuous one-minute video loop. Such a configuration lets the camera record 60 seconds before an incident. Then when the officer hits the event button, he or she can capture audio and video of the entire incident. There will also be a privacy mode so that officers can take a break, eat lunch, go to the bathroom, etc., without producing a video record.
Smith says AXON is intended to help officers not keep track of them or invade their privacy. He explains that the primary purpose for AXON is to capture the events leading up to an incident and the actions taken by an officer in the field, to "protect truth," as the company's advertising campaign for the new product says, and protect the officer.
"We have developed a real core competence in understanding the needs of the law enforcement officer in terms of the force that they have to deploy and what they have to do afterward to document that force," Smith says. "AXON is not just an on-officer camera. It's integrated into the value chain of what the cop on the street needs to deploy force, record it, and defend it."
Like all computers, AXON will be upgraded as time goes on. TASER has a roadmap for features that it would like to develop in the future, but Smith says the company wants to assure early adopters that they will be able to upgrade their existing equipment at a fraction of the cost of purchasing new systems. The modular design of the AXON system will let TASER make upgrades primarily to the cradle, which Smith says will minimize an agency's cost of upgrading its AXON systems. "Buying a new cradle every other year or so will be much less expensive than buying an entire system," he says.
TASER says the AXON system is expected to sell for less than $1,000 per unit. It's expected to ship late this year or early next year.
Smith says the system has been demonstrated for a number of law enforcement administrators. "We've shown it to major city police chiefs, and they've kind of scratched their heads and asked, 'Why is TASER doing this?' But then when they see our total vision, we get some pretty positive feedback."
AUTONOMOUS EXTENDED ON-OFFICER NETWORK
Linux-based operating system
All-in-one imager, microphone, and radio speaker
Waterproof for all-weather use
High-resolution 2.8-inch video display
Expandable flash memory
RF connectivity for TASER weapon control
One-touch privacy mode allows officers to temporarily suspend video-audio recording
Push-to-talk microphone/speaker on cradle
Less than $1,000
Want FreeInfo? Visit Taser International online.
Below are the results of the August, 2008 POLICE Web Poll asking readers how they felt about wearing a video recording system.