After a competitive selection process involving at least six manufacturers, the city’s purchasing blog shows the agency’s top choice for the recording technology is Taser International.
Seattle Police Department is close to finalizing a contract for outfitting 850 officers with body cameras, a multimillion dollar project the agency expects to fully launch next year.
According to the city’s purchasing blog, the department intends to award the contract to Taser International, following a competitive selection process involving at least six manufacturers of the recording technology, documents show.
The police department aims to test the chosen devices on 15 or 20 officers by December, before the project’s full launch in February, according to the city’s request-for-proposals.
Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, a Seattle police spokesman, said stakeholders have yet to finalize the contract, and they expect to release more details next week. The total cost of the plan is unclear.
Most Read Local Stories
- Tim Eyman under investigation in theft of $70 chair from Office Depot WATCH
- Former Eastside lawmaker arrested after drinking with underage relative, police say
- Meet the many unsung heroes of the Seattle Snowpocalypse WATCH
- Amazon puts the smile in federal income taxes — by not paying any | Danny Westneat
- Amid measles outbreak, state House panel moves to ban personal vaccine exemptions
Axon makes two types of cameras: one that clips on to glasses, collars, or other clothes, and another that officers attach to their chests. It’s unclear what type Seattle officers will wear, or if the technology will be uniform.
The department tested Taser’s products and another manufacturer’s during its six-month pilot project that ended last summer. Both types made it to final selection rounds, in addition to another company’s, COBAN, documents show.
To test the cameras, staff at one point used them in a “visual stress-test,” during which they attached ribbon streamers to a fan, simulating officers’ movements as they run and drive, for instance. The test was meant to study how the cameras encode and process a scene, the documents show.
They also rated the manufacturers in various categories, such as storage, public-disclosure processes and video-management systems.
Under Mayor Ed Murray’s proposed 2017-18 budget, the city would spend $4.6 million over two years on the body-camera plan. Also, the City Council may release $1.8 million from this year’s budget to help the project.
The Seattle Police Department is one of many agencies nationwide adopting or procuring the small devices, a trend that accelerated after a series of fatal shootings of black people by police, to help determine what actually happens in such confrontations.
Limitations of the cameras, however, have gained national attention this year, for instance, after the fatal police shooting of a black man, Alton Sterling, in Louisiana. The officers’ body cameras in that incident were apparently dislodged or knocked off during the encounter.
Nick Zajchowski, manager of the Seattle Police Department’s body-worn video program, said earlier this year the selection process would take such factors into consideration.
The launch has taken longer than officials had hoped due to privacy concerns and challenges related to public-disclosure requests. Compared to other departments, Seattle faces a unique set of issues due to the state’s broad Public Records Act.