Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife officers will be issued body cameras and Tasers for the first time this year after the commission approved a decadelong contract with a company known for providing police with these technologies, an agency spokesman said.
The 10-year contract approved by the commission is for 181 cameras and Tasers from Axon Enterprises as well as training and support for the devices and additional aid with record-keeping and computer-assisted dispatch, said Keith Stephens, director of communications for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
“It’s the whole shooting match,” Stephens said.
The commission sees the contract, which is projected to cost $700,000 a year, as a way of future-proofing the agency.
“We’re trying to meet future standards we think all law enforcement will be required to use,” Stephens said.
The new cameras will be set up so that they begin recording whenever an officer draws their Taser or service pistol, he said. The agency has roughly 175 wildlife officers, so each one will get a camera and they won’t have to turn them in at the beginning and end of shifts.
As much as the new tools for officers will aid them and help with transparency, the software and technical support provided by Axon will be valuable to streamline the way the agency keeps records and references evidence, Stephens said.
If any of the cameras are damaged during the contract’s duration, Axon will repair or replace them.
The contract is slated to begin May 1, Stephens said, after Director Austin Booth signs off on it, and the cameras should be with officers shortly after that.