A Wall Street Journal investigation this week highlights some possibly shady business practices by Taser, the maker of the eponymous shock device and other police hardware. It uses the Boise Police Department’s nearly $1.5 million body camera deal with Taser last year as an example.
According to the Journal, Taser convinces police departments it is the only company that can provide services in order to secure contracts without having to go through an open bidding process. That’s done, the Journal says, by giving free trips to decision makers.
Last year as Boise was considering outfitting police with body cameras, Taser offered to a fly a high-ranking member of the BPD to its Arizona headquarters to learn about its products. Boise Police Chief Bill Bones tells the watchdog website the Boise Guardian that he, “screwed up” in authorizing that trip.
The mayor’s spokesman Mike Journee says it was a violation of the city's ethical standards.
“However, it’s very important to note that we don’t believe that it was an intentional violation,” Journee says.
He says the city did not violate any open bidding laws or its own rules in signing the contract with Taser. He says it was a well-researched decision and BPD looked at other products and service providers before deciding to go with Taser.
Journee would not directly address Taser’s potentially questionable business practices as laid out by the Wall Street Journal. In this case he says, Taser was the only company that could have provided the body camera service package Boise Police needed.
“There were a number of reasons why we selected Taser, very good reasons,” Journee says. “Those reasons are still very valid. The mayor and council are still standing by that decision in a very strong way."
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