It has been a year since Ray Schultz left APD and went to work for Taser International. None of us knew this until KRQE happened upon Ray in February 2014 and asked him what he has been doing during his retirement. Ray announced to the world that he has been working for Taser, days after retiring from APD and weeks after he helped Taser (he used the word "greased") obtain the largest contract for body cameras in Taser history, $1,950,000 of Albuquerque tax dollars.
Because of KRQE's work, he local media also began investigating the Schultz / Taser connection, and by doing such a good job that the Albuquerque City Council could not ignore the questions of corruptions and kickbacks any longer. Retired APD Sergeant wrote and filed complaints with the AG, the US Attorney's Office, and the State Auditor asking them to look into the matter. Then the city's Inspector General office entered into the fray. All three agencies have confirmed they are looking into the matter. The only two agencies not investigating are the Bernalillo County District Attorney (no surprise here) and the US Attorney for New Mexico (who isn't saying).
So what is the status of these investigations? The Journal comes to us this morning (August 29 2014) with a report where the APD Fiscal Manager, Aubrey Thompson, defended the "sole source" contract for body cameras from Taser. He denies that the Taser contract violated any city, state or federal regulations. Thompson states:
"There was no comparable product on the market."
Really? Let's help Aubrey out. The Eye has posted three Department of Justice reports that list dozens of other companies who make body cameras and who provide cloud storage. (note regarding the Hawkes shooting, one of these reports documents a malfunction with Taser cameras where the body cable comes loose). We also have posted a link to the Wall Street Journal where they have an article that says Taser has direct competition from Vieue LLC, a company that offers everything that Taser offers. Interestingly this article says police departments should hold off on purchasing as prices are dropping and that most agencies will be able to cheaply set up and manage their own body camera system and storage. Taser's Evidence. com cloud system is simply storage bought from Amazon. How is that for Chain of Custody? APD videos are handed over to a third party (that is not law enforcement, Taser), who then hands over video evidence to a 4th party, Amazon, to store (not law enforcement). This would be the same as having Costco run the APD evidence room and then Costco contracts it out to Wal-Mart. APD has lost complete control of lapel camera evidence. We are waiting for the first defense attorney to ask that APD lapel footage be suppressed because Chain of Custody was not maintained by APD, but by third parties. It's coming.
To add insult to injury, Berry / Perry announced last week that they are going to pay UNM $50,000 to study body camera issues. What? I thought Schultz and Audrey thoroughly vetted these cameras and the issues? That is what they both said. So what questions have not been answered? Little things like it takes APD officers at least one hour of each shift to upload footage to third party Taser / Amazon cloud. That is an hour we lose officers from answering 911 calls. This is mismanagement of police manpower. How about citizens privacy rights? Can a citizen ask an officer not to record? If they are on private property does the officer have to turn it off if asked? How about privacy rights for officers? Can anything uploaded to the Taser / Amazon cloud be released through a public records request? How about that, you can see your family on the 6 pm news receiving a death notification or maybe that ex spouse who hates you will post APD lapel camera footage of you being interviewed for anything on YouTube. How secure is the Taser / Amazon cloud? Russians hack everything in the public sector, if the NSA can't keep their stuff secure why would we think Taser / Amazon can? Reader, please take the time to post you own questions on this blog. This will help Aubrey / Berry / Perry and we really want to help them.
This is where the house of Taser cards falls apart. How would Aubrey know anything about the competition, as APD Fiscal Manager, if he didn't allow other companies to present their products? Why was the APD command staff so scared of the Taser competition that they would not allow any other company to present their product? Why didn't BERRY / PERRY put a stop to this Taser lapel contract until these questions (that we are now paying $50,000 for) were answered? What was the rush to get Taser the APD contract? Is Tasergate in Albuquerque comparable to Redflex in Chicago?
There is only one word that answers this question, GREASED.
How can Berry continue to say nothing inappropriate occurred with the Taser / Schultz contract and employment. We haven't even brought up the dance party Taser put on for Schultz and APD pals. Parties, jobs in retirement, what else did Taser give out to APD personnel to ensure they received the $1,950,000 Albuquerque camera contract? Richard Berry continues to ignore, but maybe, just maybe those government officials who are supposed to be the "checks and balances" will do their jobs. We are all waiting.
The Eye has to wonder what Ray Schultz, Allen Banks, Kathy Levy and others had to say on their questionnaires. We should find out very soon. What about Godon Eden, what does he have to say about these investigations? Does he now know who makes APD body cameras? Oh and what about Redflex? Are any of these agencies speaking to the Redflex whistleblower who told the Chicago US Attorney that paybacks went on in New Mexico? Our Eyes are wide open waiting to see what happens next.
Here are some links to stories we've referred to in this article....