When I opened the plastic case containing Taser's Axon Flex system I felt much like James Bond in the 007 movies, with Q, the inveterate and very British quartermaster in the background admonishing me to, "Pay attention 007." The whole system ekes of the highest technology available to modern police officers (it is, after all, made by the folks at Taser, who control violent people with the use of electricity).
Police cameras and the videos they produce support police officer actions. Officers do the right thing and the cameras capture the events supporting and defending their positions. Unfortunately, what frequently happens with dashboard-mounted cameras is that much of the action occurs outside of the camera's view. (Conducting business directly in front of the camera—that is, the front fender—puts officers in a dangerous position, with the risk of being crushed after a drunk or inattentive motorist rear-ends the patrol vehicle.)
The Axon system is a self-contained camera and controller in one 3.3"-x-2.6" package. The Flex system takes that same controller and pairs THE3RDDEGREE it with a point-of-view camera. In other words, they've taken a digital video system, miniaturized it while improving image quality, and created a carry "system." Mount options include glasses (Oakley Flak Jacket sunglasses, by the way, with both clear and tinted lenses provided), epaulets, headbands and more.
The camera attaches to the various mount systems via a magnet hookup. If you wanted to change from the sunglass mount to the epaulet mount, it's as simple as pulling the camera off via the magnet and attaching it to the epaulet clip. The camera has a 75-
degree lens, which allows it to capture more action. It also includes a "retina low light," which, according to Taser, increases the light sensitivity similar to the human eye.
How It Works
The techno side of the installation took about one hour. Directed by a Taser tech person, I had to log onto Taser's secure website and download the Taser Evidence Sync software. This was a painless operation, even working through WiFi. The ETM (evidence transfer manager) is a docking station, which is hardwired into your agency's computer system.
Once the software and docking station were installed, it was time to connect the camera. With the camera paired up with the controller all I had to do was slide the power switch to the "on" position. A red LED at the top of the controller came on, and then turned into a blinking green indicating that I had power and the system was ready. In order to capture a video, I pressed the quarter-size, round "event" button on the front of the controller twice (think double tap …). Then the LED turned into a blinking red light, indicating I was recording.
Now, the Axon Flex system reaches back 30 seconds and records the events leading up to the time you pressed the button and started the recording process, allowing officers to capture more of the video. After the incident, or to stop the recording process, simply press and hold the "event" button for three seconds. The system records up to four hours of digital video.
A cool option with the Axon Flex system is a smart phone app which allows the user to access and review the video in the field away from computer equipment. Through Bluetooth technology I could open up the Taser app on the supplied Droid smartphone and watch the videos I had created with the camera system. This would allow supervisory personnel to watch the videos in the field and allow an initial review to define their focus. To download the video to Evidence.com, simply place the controller into the ETM docking station and all videos are downloaded.
I see direct street application with this system. The ability to record an incident from the officer's point of view can be vital to a criminal case, as well as a citizen complaint or allegation of excessive force. The Flex system gets the camera off the belt or torso and raises it up to eye level that records what was in the officer's field of view. Does it exactly record what the officer saw? No, but how could it? It's far and away superior to dash-cams or belt-worn units and has applicability for training as well.
I might not be James Bond, but we can advance our safety and officer defense with 007-like technology. The Axon Flex from Taser International is a leap forward in officer-worn digital recording technology. As Q said, "What did you expect, an exploding pen?"