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Axon, formerly Taser International, offers a free year of body cameras

Taser International, the company that manufactures stun guns and body cameras, announced this week that it was launching a program to provide free body cameras to “every police officer in America.”

The company, now called Axon, said it will also provide supporting hardware, software, data storage, training, and support to police departments free of cost for one year.

It’s unclear how the offer will affect the Baltimore City and Baltimore County police departments, which have already signed multimillion-dollar contracts with the company to equip their officers with body cameras.

“We are continuing to explore those options with Axon,” said Baltimore Police spokesman Detective Jeremy Silbert.

An Axon spokesman said the deal is available to all departments, including those with existing contracts with competitors and current Axon customers that might want to upgrade to newer cameras.

“This will apply to any and all agencies that want to test and evaluate,” spokesman Steve Tuttle wrote in an email.

For existing customers, such as Baltimore City and Baltimore County, Tuttle wrote, “we are also offering current customers to get sufficient discounts that are the equivalent or better to get a free year of [digital evidence management solution]. We knew this offer was coming and we made appropriate accommodations.”

Baltimore signed an $11.6 million contract with Taser to equip 2,500 officers with body cameras by January 2018. The city chose Taser after a pilot program in which the city tested body cameras on 150 officers from Taser, Atlantic Tactical Inc. and Brekford Corp. Nine others companies submitted proposals.

Baltimore police have so far equipped more than 900 officers with cameras.

Baltimore County police did not respond to requests for comment. The county announced last year an eight-year, $12.5 million contract with Taser for 1,435 cameras.

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said in October that the program would roll out earlier than planned, with all uniformed officers —about 1,435 — receiving cameras by September 2017.

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