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Axon Enterprises Exhibits the Latest in Taser Technology at the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office

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Sheriff Matt Kendall points the Taser 7 down range trying out Axon‘s latest taser technology [All pictures taken by Peter Armstrong]

Axon Enterprise, Inc., a company that develops technology and weapons for military, law enforcement, and civilians, made a stop at the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Headquarters yesterday to showcase their latest models of tasers, unmanned aerial vehicles, and their digital evidence management systems.

In the parking lot of MCSO’s Low Gap office, the company’s demonstration trailer along with multiple pop-ups and lunch by Big Earl’s BBQ provided the public an opportunity to see their technology in action and even try their hand at deploying the Taser 7, the company’s latest in taser technology.

Law enforcement’s budgetary demands have given rise to a robust crop of private companies looking to sell products and services to police forces. In Mendocino County, public protection accounts for 18.9% of the overall budget, representing $64,737,065 of taxpayer money. This category includes the courts, law enforcement, and corrections. More specifically, the Sheriff’s Office’s yearly budget is approximately $23,000,000. That sort of budget is enticing to entrepreneurs who see profit potential.

Axon Enterprises first gained notoriety for its mainstreaming of Taser technology within law enforcement refining a design developed by a NASA researcher in 1969. The company broke into the police body camera market branding itself as a tool used to enhance transparency. Police agencies throughout the United States have contracted with Axon including the Berkeley Police Department, the Sacramento Police Department, and the Los Angeles Police Department.

MCSO Lieutenant Andy Porter stuns virtual zombies

Axon has also entered the evidence management system market, providing agencies with Evidence.com, a domain dedicated to warehousing an agency’s evidence and body camera footage. 

Touted as an efficient method of storing and maintaining the deluge of data produced by police departments, some privacy advocates have expressed concern public records are stored and maintained within the servers of a private entity.

We stepped inside Axon’s demonstration trailer and found its design evoking scenes of stormtroopers patrolling the halls of the Death Star. Theresa Wigley, Axon’s roadshow coordinator, told us that was purposeful with Axon’s CEO Rick Smith being a huge Star Wars fan and other sci-fi motifs. 

Wigley geared us up for an immersive virtual reality experience called “Taser vs. Zombies” created to provide a demonstration of the “immersive nature of the VR.” With zombies lurching toward, users experienced the operational nuances of Axon’s Taser technology.

The sci-fi environment of Axon’s demonstration trailer

John Tinder, an Axon Senior Master Instructor, provided a real-life practicum in taser deployment. Tinder travels around the United States providing training and instructor courses on what he calls Conducted Energy Devices (CEW) to law enforcement, military, and civilians Tinder described the tool as an essential component in de-escalation. 

Standing on the firing line, Tinder instructed participants through the operational process of safely using the CEW device. After emphasizing the importance of keeping the device pointed down range, Tinder gave the green light to yell “Taser!” and pull the trigger. The probes ejected and immediately connected with the target, along with the sound of the energy being sent to each probe.

Theresa Wigley provided an overview of Axon’s Evidence.com, a cloud-based evidence management system designed to do the tedious tech work most law enforcement agencies do not have the training nor infrastructure to do efficiently. Using Evidence.com, Wigley explained police body cameras are automatically uploaded to Axon’s servers, protected by heavy encryption, allowing for streamlined management of the hours of data accrued by law enforcement. 

John Tinder showing off the Taser 7’s technologies to the Sheriff Kendall

Sheriff Matt Kendall told us tools like Axon’s taser technology have provided a vital non-lethal option for law enforcement when navigating situations that require use-of-force. He remembers as a young deputy with mace, a baton, and a firearm giving very few options in the continuum of force. He described taser technology as a game changer for law enforcement providing an important stopgap between the baton and the firearm.

In terms of Axon’s data management, Sheriff Matt Kendall said the information technology demands of modern law enforcement often get in the way of his deputies doing the work they were trained to do. Instead of dedicating trained law enforcement officers to the tedious demands of data management, data management companies like Axon can provide those services faster, cheaper, and with higher quality. 

Sheriff Kendall told us that MCSO currently is in contract with Axon for their taser technologies, some number crunching is in order to determine if his agency is interested in expanding those services. “We have to make sure the juice is worth the squeeze,” Kendall said.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Just what we need. More emphasis on weapons & aggression in law enforcement. Hope they set aside a hefty budget for all the past, present & future lawsuits that will assuredly arise from the attack 1st nature of policing.

    • I am always amazed when ignorant people throw fits over our police force moving to less lethal options.

      When my brother was having a violent episode due to drugs the officers had to use their stun gun on him. They were able to arrest him and he got the help he and my family needed.

      He got no broken bones, wasn’t punched or struck with a night stick, and wasn’t shot, although he could have been!

      That probably makes you upset because people like you love to complain about anything.

      How about the next time someone wants to attack another person we send them to your house? Maybe you could do better without the help of the police.

      The cities who have defunded the police are now suffering the worst crime and are unable recruit and retain officers, so their leaders have changed to re-funding and re-hiring.

      • Bet your dad is a cop. Honestly, I’d be more impressed if the sheriff was buying his toys from Dyn Corp or Boston Dynamics. Axon and their “Star Wars taser” are falling behind the times. I’m shocked the sheriff would put on such a show. Very sad!

      • Actually, CG, the worst crime issues in the US are in states and areas with hardline, right wing, highly punitive, mass incarceration focused prosecutors, almost exclusively in the “red” states.

        Many people “believe” & “feel” that the rhetoric used by politicians to galvanize the knee jerk reactive fear filled mob of citizens and the small insight they gain from media reports is the picture of reality, but real & verifiable data trumps those beliefs & feelings unequivocally.
        The prison industrial complex, fox news, and dark money funded politicians & con artists will tell you otherwise.

  2. New non-lethal weapons won’t help the Ukiah PD, they’ll still find a way to screw up a collar and cost the city in lawsuits !

    • Point of Fact for you OldUk, this article is about the Mendo County Sheriff’s Dept, not the Ukiah City Police Dept.
      In case you aren’t aware, they are 2 entirely different and unrelated agencies that have no legal or budgetary crossover.

  3. What you should be doing is getting in shape! Cost $0 taxpayers dollars, are you really training? You have tasers already. Inside a a/c trailer not moving heart rate not going up etc…
    You have an opportunity to set an example! Get your department fit! Defunding is an excuse not to train, no time $$ etc.. Getting in shape is free will help with the mental and emotional part of being in law enforcement.

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a journalist for the everyman. Journalism has become a craft practiced largely by the urban elite. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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