On Tuesday night, the Antioch City Council voted against a contract that would upgrade Antioch Police Department tasers that utilized technology to ensure more transparency when deployed.
Although the city council has cited it wants to increase police transparency, even after spending a month on police reform topics, the council voted down a contract with Axon Enterprises to replace and upgrade its tasers for police officers.
According to the agenda item, the city would spend $407,118.30 over a five-year-period to upgrade the tasers. The current tasers, X26P, has been in use since 2008 and is now limited in data it captures compared to newer models with newer technology—including how long taser was used, time it was used. Blue Tooth technology also triggers turning on a body camera when used. It also allows for more data to be utilized to ensure greater transparency.
During public comments, 8 speakers came out against the item and urged the council to vote it down. They urged the city to spend the money elsewhere.
Councilmember Mike Barbanica spoke in favor of upgrading tasers for the police department.
“The tasers are here now anyway and officers are carrying them now like most agencies As a city we just invested a substantial amount of money to outfit every police officer with a body cam and a dash cam,” stated Barbanica. “We did that because we are looking for accountability and to be very open with the public. If we don’t make this move, even though we have the body cams coming, we will put officers out on the street that can utilize their current equipment but it wont work with what we are purchasing and therefor we may lose that open book – the current tasers could be used and it would not guarantee the body cameras are activated where new technology who pulls a trigger multiple times we will be able to know, we will be able to know how long it was deployed, but most of all we are assured of video footage of how and why it was used.”
Barbanica argued it would showcase if an officer was misusing the taser deployment or not through video and body camera footage.
“Tasers give an option that doesn’t go to lethal force or going towards using a baton on somebody,” stated Barbanica. “It’s a lower grade of force. But the biggest thing is the accountability. We just came off a month of police reform and showing accountability and showing the public this will help ensure this and take it to the next level.”
Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock asked about what they do now with the older tasers.
According to Joseph Vigil of Axon Enterprise, he explained right now they are replacing parts but as time goes on, the tasers Antioch is using are being sunset because of technology. They also do not download the information and talk to the newer technology. Antioch would have to order new tasers to replace the old one.
Barbanica made a motion to approve the 5-year contract with Axon to upgrade tasers. Ogorchock seconded.
With no discussion or commentary, the motion failed in a 2-3 vote with Mayor Lamar Thorpe, Tamisha Torres-Walker and Monica Wilson all voting no.
In March, the city council approved $2.8 million added to the budget over five years for body cameras and dash cameras could begin as early as August 2021.