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Wasco set to buy Tasers, body cams for police

The council moves one step closer in the formation of the Wasco Police Department with the approval to purchase body cameras and Taser equipment at a total cost of $116,772.

Through Axon Enterprises, 23 body-worn cameras, 23 Tasers, multibay docking charging stations, replacement cartridges, and software and licensing will be purchased. There also will be on-site training in the package.

"Body cameras are a crucial component to ensure accountability and full transparency of our policing effort," City Manager Scott Hurlbert said in a report to the council. "Tasers have also become a recognized method for officers to de-escalate dangerous situations using non-lethal technology."

Although there are multiple vendors for this equipment, Axon Enterprises offered a fully integrated package not provided by others.

"It provides transparency to our operations and ensures the professionalism of our officers," Chief of Police Charlie Fivecoat said.

Hurlbert added, "It is standard equipment for many police departments. They are important in capturing events for both the citizens and the officers."

The Axon body camera solution is used by most law enforcement agencies in California and throughout the United States. The cameras are designed to integrate with the RIMS computer-aided dispatch and records management system selected by the department.

Axon is also fully integrated with the FLOCK Safety Falcon cameras, soon to be used by the city. The Axon solution is the only body worn camera system that allows integration with other systems used by the Police Department.

The new Taser 10 creates more distance for officers to de-escalate and resolve conflicts. The multiple individually targeted probes allow for quick deployment of an additional probe if initial targeting fails.

Axon body worn cameras are used throughout Kern County and provide a single platform for data exchange with the Kern County District Attorney's Office for case filings where BWC images are subject to discovery and needed as evidence for court proceedings.

The total cost will be paid over 60 months at an annual cost of $23,355. The City of Wasco was recently awarded a $30,000 body-worn camera grant to help offset the total cost of the agreement. The grant will more than cover the first-year costs.

Of the progress that has been made with the new Police Department, Chief Fivecoat said, "Everything is moving very well. We are in the recruitment phase now, and we've been able to bring in a very talented supervisory staff comprised of people who were born and raised in Wasco."

Hurlbert echoed this sentiment and said, "It is fantastic. The chief is doing a great job, and we are having good success recruiting staff."


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