Bexar County commissioner calls for clause in body camera contract

SAN ANTONIO – A Bexar County commissioner is calling for a change in the contract with Axon, which is the vendor that’s being considered for supplying body-worn cameras to the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office.

Commissioner Tommy Calvert released a letter Wednesday saying he “will introduce a contract clause to the body camera contract to prevent the practice of placing elected officials and government staff on advisory boards of Axon (formerly Taser) which comes with free travel for officials and their spouses.”

The Bexar County Sheriff’s Department has said it prefers body cameras from Axon instead of the cameras from Utility Associates Inc., which were sold to the Sheriff’s Department under then-Sheriff Susan Pamerleau.

Calvert said Axon’s practice of paying elected officials and staff to serve as consultants taints public trust.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar released the following statement:

"I fully agree with the clause that Commissioner Tommy Calvert is proposing and look forward to helping him craft wording for it, if requested. As a matter of fact, Utility, Inc. – the maker of the cameras previously bought — asked Sheriff Salazar’s administration to allow that BCSO supervisors assigned to the project at that time travel and present with Utility, Inc., at a conference on April 20, 2017. Utility, Inc. cited that a BCSO supervisor '…was wonderful at the LEIM conference last year…' The previous year’s (2016) conference and any associated travel took place before Sheriff Salazar took office. The travel requested in 2017, however, was denied by Sheriff Salazar’s administration. We will fully abide by whatever rules are ultimately set forth in the contract.”

Last month, the Sheriff’s Department presented county commissioners with the findings of a pilot program using Axon body cameras.

County commissioners are expected to talk about the contract with Axon on Tuesday.  

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