The Profound Impact of Axon's Integrated Network of Solutions on Law Enforcement
Our Inside Axon blog series is updated every Wednesday and features letters from executives within Axon. This week's post was written by Isaiah Fields, Axon's Associate General Counsel. Check again next week for more experiences and insight from Axon leaders.
That is the guiding principle of Axon’s integrated network of less lethal, officer video and digital evidence management solutions. But is it just a marketing platitude? Or are there real statistics, and more importantly, real lives supporting it?
The Electrifying Impact of TASER Conducted Electrical Weapons
Our TASER Conducted Electrical Weapons (‘CEWs’) revolutionised law enforcement use-of-force when first introduced over twenty years ago. The data on their impact is well documented. As of 2017, TASER CEWs have been used on suspects and volunteers more than 5.5 million times. In a three-year review of 1,201 cases conducted by America's Wake Forest University in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice, 99.75% of suspects subjected to a TASER CEW suffered no significant injuries. And the associated cost savings following agency deployment of TASER CEWs is staggering. The Michigan Municipal Risk Management Association saw annual losses from excessive force claims drop 95% from US$7,000,000 a year to US$366,000 in a five-year period following deployment. Similarly, Houston saw annual Workers’ Compensation claims reduced 93% from US$2,200,000 to US$148,000 over a four-year period.
A critical benefit of TASER CEWs is not just their effectiveness when deployed, but also that the mere display of the weapon often causes suspects to comply. In a single year the Marin County Sheriff’s Department in the U.S. documented volitional compliance in 49 out of 87 incidents where TASER CEWs were removed from their holster. These high rates of operational success and associated cost savings have been realised by agencies all over the world and are reinforced by the more than 700 studies documenting the safety and effectiveness of TASER CEWs.
Revolutionising the Capture and Management of Law Enforcement Evidence
Axon’s next disruption of law enforcement technologies came in 2006 when it introduced the ‘TASER Cam’, a camera attached to a TASER CEW to capture use-of-force incidents. Recognising the value of increased transparency and improved evidence collection, Axon expanded its on-officer video offerings in 2009 when it introduced its first on-officer camera. The impact of Axon’s on-officer video solutions has been profound. In a 12-month study by the Rialto Police Department (U.S.), the agency saw citizen complaints reduced by 88% and use of force by 59%. Similarly, a study by the Mesa Police Department (U.S.) saw citizen complaints reduced by 40% and use of force by 75%. The benefits of on-officer video also extend to the criminal justice process. Newport News Police Department (U.S.) saw guilty pleas in DUI cases increase 20% when on-officer video captured the arrest.
The financial impact of Axon’s solutions are as profound as their impact on citizen complaints and officer use-of-force. The Rialto Police Department reported that for every dollar it invested in Axon cameras it saved four dollars in litigation costs. Similarly, the Evesham Police Department (U.S.) saw a 591% return on its investment in Axon on-officer video. Results like those experienced by the Rialto, Mesa, Newport News and Evesham police departments have been reported by Axon customers all over the country. It is clear from these studies and many more that Axon body cameras can play a huge role in agency risk management.
But cameras are just the tip of the iceberg when deploying a successful officer video program. The cost and complexity of these solutions lies primarily in the management and security of the digital evidence generated by the cameras. Axon recognised this challenge early on and invested heavily in developing Evidence.com, a secure, cloud-based digital evidence management solution. Evidence.com allows officers and agencies to seamlessly collect, transfer, manage, retrieve and share digital evidence with minimal effort needed from officers so they can spend less time behind a keyboard and more time policing their communities. For example, the Redmond Police Department in the USA estimate their evidence management savings to be approximately US$1,100 a year per officer following deployment of Evidence.com.
The Real Life Impact of Axon’s Network of Solutions Working Together
So what happens when Axon’s technologies combine to work together? One example of a life saved occurred in 2013 in Lake Havasu, Arizona USA, where officers responded to calls of an armed suspect threatening suicide. These videos captured on first-generation Axon cameras demonstrate how officers were able to avoid a lethal encounter by deploying a TASER CEW while capturing their heroic actions and critical evidence with Axon cameras:
Axon and the Future of Community Policing
As impactful as Axon’s technologies were in 2013, the company’s offerings continue to lead the charge in policing innovation. While we could spend pages talking about our most current solutions and our future product roadmap – the following video is far more powerful. Which is exactly the point behind Axon’s mission, name change, solutions and its ongoing partnership with law enforcement.