Auburn City Council discussed equipping Auburn police with cameras carried by the body, among other new technologies, during the July 12 study session.
Some nearby police departments, such as Kent, Seattle and Tacoma, already use cameras carried by the body.
Two representatives of Axon – the company that supplies Tasers and body cameras to police across the country – presented the company’s “Official Security Plan” to the board during the study session.
The plan includes the latest versions of Axon’s Taser, body and car cameras, as well as virtual reality training and cloud storage for testing. The plan would cost about $ 2.4 million in five years, Axon’s Allen Sliper said during the study session.
Board members expressed concern about the effectiveness of some of the devices Axon offers.
“Body cameras have been controversial in some respects. Sometimes they are considered to be very successful, other times they are considered not to be so successful, ”said Deputy Mayor Claude DaCorsi. “I’m curious about the national success rate in relation to the use of body cameras and their acceptance by officers.”
Sliper said the number one indicator of body camera success is the reduction in allegations against officers, specifically fewer false accusations against police officers.
“Automatically people won’t make accusations and say something happened that didn’t happen because now they know there’s a video,” Sliper said.
A study published by George Mason University found that both the public and officers generally support body cameras because police believe the cameras will protect them from the public and vice versa.
According to the same study, body cameras may not change the behavior of agents or citizens. The study found that the use of body cameras can reduce the number of complaints made against agents. According to the study, body cameras did not consistently affect the use of force by agents.
One of the most futuristic devices offered in the Axon Security Officer Plan are virtual reality (VR) headphones and Community Engagement Training. Axon markets its RV system as a way for police departments to train officers on how to deal with people who have schizophrenia, dementia or other mental illnesses. Agents would use RV headphones to hold conversations with a person generated by artificial intelligence.
Another aspect of Axon’s officer security plan is to provide officers with the latest tasks. Tasers are less lethal weapons that fire two points at a person and cause an electric shock in order to subdue the person.
Councilor James Jeyaraj was concerned about the number of people who died as a result of the collision with Axon’s Taser. Jeyaraj noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has left many people with permanent heart problems.
Axon spokesman James Hillary said he should do more research, but suggested zero people have been killed directly by a Taser gun.
“From a Taser deployment I would say zero, but for other circumstances there is definitely a number,” Hillary said.
A Reuters report found that there were more than 1,000 cases in the United States in which one person died after being hit by a Taser. Autopsy results included Taser as the cause or factor that contributed in 153 of these deaths.
Axon also provides police departments with legal equipment to defend an officer in Taser-related cases, Hillary said.
The council will study whether to go ahead with equipping Auburn police with worn-out cameras on the body and the officers ’security plan.
However, the Washington state legislature recently passed SHB 1223, which will require police officers to record audio and video of most interrogations beginning January 1, 2022. Thus, d one way or another, Auburn police will likely be equipped with cameras carried by the body in the near future.