Taser Changes Name in Shift to Software, Services for Police

An armed police officer rests his hand on a taser outside the Ministry of Defence in London Britain

The Axon name comes from the business unit that sells police body cameras, patrol auto cameras and the software for managing the hours of digital footage they generate. A decade later, the company added police body cameras to its production line.

Along with body cameras, Axon is offering free supporting hardware, software, data storage and training for the first year.

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. Similar plans are underway in Chicago for all officers to be equipped with cameras by 2018.

One city that for sure won't be taking advantage of this generous offer to expand the surveillance state is New York City.

The Seattle Police Department decided in November to purchase body cameras from the Taser unit for 850 officers. As of press time, neither Taser/Axon or the NYPD could tell us whether the free camera offer was ever part of Taser/Axon's bid. And the prospect of having more police departments sign on after their yearlong trial probably isn't a bad look either. Numerous nation's largest police departments - including New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago - have signed multi-million-dollar contracts with body camera companies.

"The faster we can get this technology to officers who need it, the faster we can begin that process and free up officers' time to get back into the community, building better relationships with the people they serve", Smith said.

It's also a way to cut down on the red tape that comes with working with public agencies as customers.

Axon Enterprise Inc (NASDAQ:TASR) - which manufactures Taser-branded items - is handing out free cameras to all cops. It brought in $65.6 million in net sales in 2016, up 85 percent from 2015.

Explaining the name change for the Arizona-based company, CEO Rick Smith said Taser has great brand awareness, but the brand can also eclipse the other things - like body cameras - that the company provides. Tasers are gunlike devices that stun and temporarily incapacitate a person.

The publicly traded company saw total revenues of $268 million past year and has about $100 million in cash on hand.

"We have protests happening against the police on a pretty regular basis", he said.

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