Less Lethal: Taser Axon

When Jack Cover developed and manufactured the first Taser in…

When Jack Cover developed and manufactured the first Taser in 1974, it paid homage to Victor Appleton’s Tom Swift series by virtue of its name: Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle. To be able to remotely control a violent suspect from a distance with electricity was amazing. Taser International has not stopped there. Unveiled recently through an internet “webinar” is Taser International’s latest device to improve officer safety and protect against unmeritorious civil suits—the AXON. The Taser AXON is an audio and video recording system that is officer worn. With the color camera mounted on a headset, the AXON records a view of what the officer actually sees from eye-level. The AXON system is composed of three parts: the Head Cam, the Com Hub, and the officer-carried AXON Tactical Computer.

Complementary Components: The Head Cam is a head-set that features the camera and integral ear piece, which will allow officers to listen to their portable radios. The color camera is able to record images in little to no light because of the integral infra-red illuminator.

The Com Hub can be clipped to the front of the officer’s uniform and uses a simple push-to-talk switch, as well as a simple start/stop switch for the A/V recording function.

The ATC (AXON Tactical Computer) is a Linux-based operating system that incorporates a 4.3-inch touch screen similar to Apple’s I-Phone. Although the images and audio captured cannot be deleted or edited by the officer, they can place markers for important events, to speed later viewing and record audio commentary. The ATC is rechargeable and is good for 10 hours.

Storing The Evidence: When an officer returns to the station at the end of a tour of duty, he places the unit in the ETM (Evidence Transfer Manager) for recharge and transferring the encrypted data to Evidence.com, Taser’s new data evidence-collection company. The information is kept in the redundant system for later viewing. Agencies can view or download the images (including the markers and audio the officer previously recorded) as well as any other AXON recorded parts of the event.

Real Time facts: When you consider that, according to Taser, only 20% of police incidents are recorded by dashboard mounted cameras, you can see the value of man-portable video gathering. At $1,700 per unit with a $99.95 per month subscription to Evidence.com, AXON is not inexpensive. But when you consider the pay-out for one police shooting or the use of non-deadly force in a civil suit, the initial costs are small.

Taser has certainly expanded its video capturing technology as typified by the TaserCam, with the introduction of the AXON and Evidence.com data recording system. What was once thought of as science fiction is now science fact.

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