Seattle-based Vievu won a $6.4 million contract last year to outfit New York Police Department officers with body cameras. But the city’s comptroller refused last week to sign off on the deal, spurring speculation about behind-the-scenes moves by rival Taser International.
Seattle-based body camera maker Vievu has run into some roadblocks in New York City and is pointing to competitor Taser as the source of the problem.
Vievu won a $6.4 million contract with the New York Police Department last year to outfit police officers with body cameras. But the city’s comptroller refused last week to sign off on the deal, and The New York Times reported that the city’s Department of Investigation is probing the contract.
Vievu faced stiff competition for the deal from larger rival Taser International, whose Axon body camera division is also based in Seattle.
Vievu spokesman John Collins dismissed the delays as “our competitor whining about a process that they lost fair and square.”
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A Taser spokesman said it didn’t believe any employees had been in contact with the investigations department.
“However, DOI was copied on some of TASER’s procurement protests pursuant to a recent court decision,” Steve Tuttle said.
The contract has created a scuffle between various city offices in New York. The comptroller won’t approve the deal. The mayor, according to the Wall Street Journal, is sticking to it. And the investigations department hasn’t said what exactly it is looking into.
At a press conference Monday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the contract with Vievu is moving forward. De Blasio told reporters information to discredit Vievu is being circulated “largely by one of its competitor companies, and I don’t think it’s the first time in the history of the free enterprise system that we’ve seen one company try to smear another.”
The deputy police commissioner followed up, saying the comptroller has asked policy questions that don’t have anything to do with the terms of the contract.
The bid from Vievu was one-third the cost of its closest competitor, The Journal reported, raising eyebrows for some.
Vievu, which is owned by Safariland, a Florida producer of law enforcement and security products, said it hasn’t been contacted about any investigation.
“The city and NYPD did an exhaustive review and decided that Vievu’s technology and pricing were superior,” said company spokesman Collins.
Collins confirmed Vievu’s bid was nearly one-third of Taser’s final bid and added that the deal would be profitable for Vievu.
The NYPD began the hunt for a body camera provider in 2013, after a federal judge ordered the move in the wake of its controversial stop-and-frisk program.
The Seattle Police Department was also under federal scrutiny when it started searching for body cameras. SPD last fall chose technology from Taser’s Axon.