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Shoeleather Journalism in the Digital Age

Shoeleather Journalism
in the Digital Age

Paradise Valley police: body cameras are now essential accountability tool

A view of one example of body worn camera technology police officers say have become essential tools in community policing efforts. (File Photos/DigitalFreePress.com)

Axon contract at Paradise Valley Town Council likely to be renewed

By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press

A cultural shift in perspective has fully formed at the Paradise Valley Police Department as Cmdr. Freeman Carney reports body-worn cameras are a welcome edition to the official uniform.

Cmdr. Carney says Paradise Valley police officers on patrol never leave home without it.

“When we got body warm cameras — just think about your own workday — everyone you talk to all day is recorded,” Cmdr. Carney told Paradise Valley Town Council during the local governing board’s Oct. 27 work session discussion. “But turns out now it is something officers actually enjoy as it collects evidence for you. And, it actually protects the officers.”

Paradise Valley Town Council during its Oct. 27 work session discussion offered the proverbial head nod for police department officials to move forward with terms for a five-year renewal with Axon, a Scottsdale-based company specializing in wearable cameras and accompanying technology.

In all, the five-year renewal will come at a total cost of $315,024.97 over the next five fiscal years.

Cmdr. Carney explained the existing contract with Axon expires this December and reports the renewal locks in prices for the municipality no matter economic conditions of the day.

Here is a breakdown of the proposed costs for the program’s General Fund impact:

  • FY23- $37,803.05
  • FY24- $69,305.48
  • FY25- $69,305.48
  • FY26- $69,305.48
  • FY27- $69,305.48

Paradise Valley Councilman Mark Stanton lauded the body camera program and pointed out the Town of Paradise Valley is doing business with a local, trusted operator in the emerging police technology space.

“Not only do I think it is a great program, I love that it is a local company based right here in Arizona,” he said of Axon during the public hearing. “They are a category leader in this space. We are lucky to have them here locally.”

Paradise Valley Police Chief Peter Wingert, who is taking a policy position at a national police advocacy agency later this year, offered Cmdr. Carney, who is set to take on the role of police chief, pointed out the favorable contract terms was the work of Mr. Carney and the town’s chief financial officer.

“This is just an example of the kind of officers you have working for you,” he said following a presentation of a routine traffic stop recorded a week earlier.

For Cmdr. Carney he explains the recording device has become an essential tool of effective community policing.

“When people know they are being filmed it takes away their anonymity and they naturally deescalate,” he said. “It provides accountability as we can look at rudeness issues. It is actually more of a protection for our officers. I don’t think the officers want to go out without it.”

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