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Cincinnati Police Officers Get A Tech Upgrade

Cincinnati police officers are already using the Axon 3 body camera (right) and will be using the new Taser 7 (left) by summer.
Cincinnati police officers are already using the Axon 3 body camera (right) and will be using the new Taser 7 (left) by summer.

The Cincinnati Police Department is in the middle of a major technology upgrade. That includes new body cameras, updated Tasers and replacing in-car video recording systems.

It's all part of a 10-year contract signed last fall with Axon, a major provider of police technology. The city will spend $24 million during the life of the contract.

Axon representatives made a presentation Tuesday to City Council's Law and Public Safety Committee.

All Cincinnati officers are now using the Axon 3 body camera. It is said to provide better pictures and audio.

Sydney Siegmeth said it also has the ability to provide a live stream to police commanders.

"You have real-time situational awareness," Siegmeth said. "So it lets you act on information that you are getting in real time. The current body camera, you dock it and then you act on information that you get after your shift or the next day. This allows you to act on the information - again that's happening, as it's unfolding at the scene."

The updated body cameras also automatically begin recording when officers pull their weapons from their holsters, turn on or activate their Tasers or turn on the emergency lights in their cruisers.

The updated Taser 7 has a built-in battery and also lets officers activate the device twice without having to change cartridges. The older version required a cartridge change after the first activation.

Steve Willis with Axon said this is the smartest Taser the company has put together over the last 25 years.

"This particular Taser provides the officer with much more clear targeting," Willis said. "In addition, it provides much straighter accuracy, so that it ensures that the officer has the capability to de-escalate the situation when the time dictates that."

Cincinnati officers are taking training classes now to learn about the new Tasers, and they should be fully deployed by June or July.

Replacing the police car recording systems will take a little longer. That process is expected to last three years before all the 250 or so marked police cars have the new technology. The upgrade also will allow video to be shared more quickly through uploads to a storage cloud. Right now officials have to pull the hard drive out of a car and download the video to a server when it's requested.

Willis said all the information from recordings to Taser reports will be easier to access thanks to an upgraded records management system.

"So now when you go into your records management system you have immediate access to all the body-worn camera footage, in-car camera footage, Taser firing logs, citizen submitted cell phone video, CCTV footage - whatever you want to put in there is now consolidated into one place for the officers to review, manage and create their investigations," Willis said.

The records system will also make it easier to share information with people who request police videos.  Last year the department received 5,000 requests for car video and 19,000 requests for body camera footage. Most of those are coming from attorneys representing clients in criminal matters.

The 10-year contact with Axon also means the police department will received future upgrades as the technology evolves and changes.

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