Taser International, the stun-gun maker emerging as a leading supplier of body cameras for police, has cultivated financial ties to police chiefs whose departments have bought the recording devices, raising a host of conflict-of-interest questions.
A review of records and interviews by The Associated Press show Taser is covering airfare and hotel stays for police chiefs who speak at promotional conferences. It is also hiring recently retired chiefs as consultants, sometimes just months after their cities signed contracts with Taser.
Over the past 18 months, Taser has reached consulting agreements with two such chiefs weeks after they retired, and it is in talks with a third who also backed the purchase of its products, the AP has learned. Taser is planning to send two of them to speak at luxury hotels in Australia and the United Arab Emirates in March at events where they will address other law enforcement officers considering body cameras.
The relationships raise questions of whether chiefs are acting in the best interests of the taxpayers in their dealings with Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Taser, whose contracts for cameras and storage systems for the video can run into the millions of dollars.