MPD’s body cam supplier offers equipment to officers nationwide for free

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The company supplying the Memphis Police Department with body cameras said they will offer them free to every U.S. police officer.

Taser International, also known as AXON, made the announcement on Wednesday citing an "increasingly challenging environment for police officers" among other reasons.

The news as left many people here in Memphis surprised.

City Council Chairman Berlin Boyd said he's glad the city purchased body cameras,  but was surprised to learn that Taser International is offering them for free. It's a giveaway that would have been a blessing to Memphis taxpayers who are looking at a five year, nearly $10 million contract.

"Because the City of Memphis and the taxpayers here was basically burdened with having to spend that type of money to purchase all the body cameras for full deployment."

Axon's offer does not impact cities like Memphis, which have already signed on the dotted line.

The company's one year trial offer includes one Axon Body 2 camera per officer, unlimited data storage, accessories and access to Axon Academy's entire online training library.

"It has a one year time frame after which you have to return the equipment, no charge. So it's not a gimmick, there's no cost. And you get all the evidence back," said Vice President of Strategic Communications Steve Tuttle.

Last year, Axon did replace the MPD's shoulder mounted cameras with chest mounted versions at no cost.

"That goes on the bullet proof vest. It's supposed to be a higher quality camera, supposed to show a better quality picture."

Boyd said he wishes the city could do something to save money or recoup some of the expense, but the city is under contract with Axon.

"It's water under the bridge now. There's nothing we can do about it."