ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Setting aside concerns about Taser International, a divided Albuquerque City Council voted Monday to grant the company a five-year, $4.4 million contract for 2,000 on-body cameras for police officers and cloud storage.
Councilors voted 5-to-3 to award the contract after debating whether the city should be entering into a contract with Taser.
The Attorney General’s Office is investigating the $2 million no-bid contract the city entered into with Taser in 2013 because former Police Chief Ray Schultz began consulting work for Taser while he was still on the city’s payroll.
“I think we owe it to the taxpayers to ask if this is a company we should further do business with,” City Councilor Dan Lewis said, noting that Taser has recently changed its name to Axon in an apparent attempt to distance itself from its controversies. He said there are too many red flags.
Councilor Pat Davis acknowledged the controversy, but said there are only two contractors able to provide the Albuquerque Police Department with what it needs, given the department’s size. He also noted the “extraordinary” scrutiny the procurement process for this contract had undergone.
The city’s Office of Inspector General issued a report in late February that concluded the procurement process used was “fair and unbiased.” The city’s Internal Audit department, however, alerted city officials to a potential conflict of interest with one of the subject matter experts involved in the process and Taser.
Mark Leech, technical services manager for APD, said a separate committee, and not the subject matter experts, actually selected Taser.
Coming in second was Utility Associates, which filed a protest over the selection process. The city’s chief procurement officer rejected that protest.
Leech said Taser’s product offered greater flexibility and reliability.
Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry told the Council that the contract is needed so that APD can remain in compliance with Department of Justice requirements.
Voting against the contract were Councilors Lewis, Ken Sanchez and Klarissa Peña. Councilors Davis, Don Harris, Diane Gibson, Trudy Jones and Brad Winter voted in favor of the contract; Council President Isaac Benton was absent.