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article / November 29, 2023

2024 Axon Awards Judging Panel Announced

Each year, the Axon Awards program shares the inspiring work of first responders who put their lives on the line in service of their communities. The Jack Cover, RISE, and Visionary Leadership Awards recognize the amazing service and sacrifice of the heroes working to build a sustainable future for public safety.

Nominations for the 2024 Axon Awards are open until December 15, 2023. Nominate a hero today

Today, we are excited to introduce the 2024 Axon Awards Judging Panel!


Carmen Best is the Former Seattle PD Chief of Police. She was the first black woman to lead Seattle PD, and led the City of Seattle through civil unrest during the George Floyd protests. Chief Best resigned from her role when the department was downsized to preserve department diversity and operations. She is the author of Black in Blue: Lessons on Leadership, Breaking Barriers, and Racial Reconciliation.

Jeff Beard is the Former Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He served as a consultant for the National Institute of Corrections, and for corrections agencies and companies around the country, advising on security, performance, mental health and assessment programs for the Corrections field. Jeff is a member of the National Academy of Science committee studying the high rates of incarceration in the U.S.

Laura King is the Chief of Police for the McHenry County Conservation District. She works as a subject matter expert for the Bureau of Justice Assistance VALOR for Blue program, and travels the country speaking on matters of mental wellness, psychological resiliency and physical fitness. Chief King is a graduate of the FBI’s National Academy and has done considerable research on officer wellness. She works to improve police operations through an increased understanding of the principles of psychology.

Dr. Richard Carmona served as the 17th Surgeon General of the United States. A former U.S. Army Special Forces medic and combat-decorated Vietnam Veteran, Dr. Carmona has served as a leader in numerous public safety capacities, including as the Deputy Sheriff of Pima County and Medical Director of Pima County Police and Fire Departments.

Chief Kristen Ziman is the former Chief of Police for Aurora PD in Illinois. During her tenure, Chief Ziman developed a peer support program for officers struggling with PTSD and implemented mental health training for every sworn officer. She implemented a drone program to improve crime scene investigations, water rescues and missing person searches. An FBI National Academy graduate, Chief Ziman is the author of Reimagining Blue: Thoughts on Life, Leadership, and a New Way Forward in Policing

Chief Renee Hall is the Former Chief of Police for Dallas PD. During her tenure, Chief Hall launched the PD’s Real-Time Crime Center, and prioritized officer welfare by increasing starting salaries and restructuring the civil service exam. She founded the department’s Youth Summer Jobs program, which allowed community leaders to mentor at-risk youth through workforce development. A 2022 Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow, Chief Hall is widely commended for her focus on officer welfare and fostering positive relationships within the community.

Chief Darrel Stephens is the Former Chief of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg PD in North Carolina. He is the Co-founder of the MCCA Police Executive Leadership Institute, and is widely recognized as one of the most innovative police chiefs in modern American history, and has over 50 years of experience in policing. Chief Stephens was inducted into the Evidence Based Policing Hall of Fame in May 2010.

Rick Smith is the CEO and Founder of Axon Enterprise. Smith founded Axon in 1993 with a mission to Protect Life and a vision to make the bullet obsolete. Three decades later, Axon has become a household name in public safety agencies worldwide, and Smith remains committed to working with public safety officials to develop the technology ensure both they and their community members get home safe.