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Taser Deal Moves Forward

Taser Deal Moves Forward

City is a step closer to inking a $4.4 million police body camera deal with Taser International.

The city has moved a step closer to inking a $4.4 million deal with Taser International to provide the Albuquerque Police Department with up to 2,000 body cameras for its officers.

On April 10, the City Council’s Finance and Government Operations Committee sent a proposed contract with Taser to the full council, although it did so without a recommendation that it be passed.

The 4 to 1 vote came after a lengthy discussion in which some councilors said they were concerned about the New Mexico Attorney General Office’s criminal investigation into the city’s $2 million, no-bid contract with Taser in 2013.

That investigation is still ongoing, and AG Hector Balderas has not said when it will be completed or if charges will be filed.

“My biggest concern is that there is still an ongoing investigation and that we’re giving a multi-million dollar contract to a company that is still being investigated by the AG’s office,” councilor Ken Sanchez said during the discussion about the proposed contract.

City Attorney Jessica Hernandez replied that she believed the AG’s investigation was centered on the actions of former police chief Ray Schultz, and that if Taser were found to have acted improperly, the city could rescind any contract it signed with the firm.

Sanchez cast the lone vote against sending the proposed contract to the full council. Councilors Brad Winter, Patrick Davis, Klarissa Peña and Don Harris voted for it.

APD said it needs the new cameras because it doesn’t have enough of the current Taser cameras to equip all of its officers with them. The department has bought 210 off-the-shelf body cameras in the past 18 months for detectives and members of specialized units because it doesn’t have enough Tasers to go around.

City purchasing personnel said during Monday’s meeting that the bidding process for the contract was fair and exhaustive. Nine companies submitted bids for the deal, four were considered, and two made the short list, they said. In addition, Taser and competing cameras were field tested by APD personnel and Taser came out on top, they added.

The AG’s office is investigating allegations that Schultz and other APD personnel violated city law by accepting meals and trips from Taser in return for giving the firm the no-bid contract in 2013.

Meanwhile, city purchasing officials said Monday that they had investigated and dismissed an appeal to the city’s decision to give the current contract to Taser. A Georgia firm, Utility Associates, Inc., claimed that Taser’s bid should be disqualified because it didn’t meet the city’s requirements as laid out in its request for proposals.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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