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article / February 14, 2024

Boosting flexibility and protecting communities with Axon Body 4

Flagstaff Police Department Case Study: Boosting flexibility and protecting communities with Axon Body 4

Flagstaff, Arizona draws visitors from far and wide thanks to its proximity to the Grand Canyon and the San Francisco Peaks, as well as the seasonal beauty of its mountainous surroundings. Its population of more than 70,000 hosts the vibrant student body of Northern Arizona University and a diverse range of seasonal and permanent residents.

Providing superior service to these wide-ranging communities while remaining ahead of the curve on a commitment to transparency puts a unique set of demands on the Flagstaff Police Department.

The Challenge

As part of this commitment to transparency, Flagstaff PD originally elected to get ahead of national trends by equipping its patrol officers with body-worn cameras, specifically point-of-view cameras in the Axon Flex line. Officers mounted the device’s camera attachment on their heads to ensure they recorded everything they saw in each incident.

Previously, officers had three options to secure the camera to their heads: a magnetic ballcap mount, a mount around the crown of their head, or an Oakley Flak Jacket glasses frame. Unfortunately, these arrangements resulted in some limitations to how and where they could be deployed. The camera’s field of view meant it needed to remain mounted to the head, either on a ballcap or around the crown, at all times during an incident to capture a sufficient record of the events. Patrol officers sometimes found the pressure from this mount on their head could lead to discomfort over the course of a shift – which proved to be less than ideal. In addition, fifty percent of the video captured was obstructed by the face due to the location of the mount on the head.

These mounting options did not lend themselves well for use by detectives, who wear business attire rather than full patrol gear in the course of their duties, as the available POV mounts did not fit with semi-formal dress. Therefore, detectives relied on standalone audio recorders or the Axon Capture app instead of being able to fully benefit from the convenience of body-worn cameras.

This meant that while body-worn cameras were found to be essential as tools for recording the truth in patrol officer’s interactions with the public, having to decide between investing in Flex 2 POV cameras or cameras from the Axon Body line meant that detectives couldn’t take advantage of them. Fortunately, the department found that it could combine the flexibility and benefits of both camera solution types when it became an early trial agency for Axon Body 4, a best in-class body-worn camera that can be purchased with a compatible POV accessory.

The Solution

Flagstaff PD’s Lieutenant Charles Hernandez was involved with the department’s initial decision to join the Axon Body 4 beta trial. He described it as a “win-win partnership, where we could evaluate the [camera] for Axon, but also use this as an opportunity for us as an agency to evaluate different methods to capture the same evidence.”

Flagstaff patrol officers began using Axon Body 4 cameras in their day-to-day duties after a brief setup process with Axon’s support. The department initially required officers to use Axon Body 4’s Flex POV accessory with a head mount, carrying forward the same approach it took with its previous Flex cameras.

Officers were pleased to discover the POV accessory’s strong retention clip made it less likely to become dislodged in the event of a physical altercation with a subject – one of the most important times to maintain an uninterrupted recording. If the POV module becomes disconnected, Axon Body 4 automatically resumes recording from the camera built into its frame as an instant backup. Meanwhile, the Axon Body 4 POV accessory is 30% smaller and lighter than Flex 2 and does not need to be recharged, making it easier and more comfortable to use all throughout a shift.

Additionally, officers quickly discovered that the clear image and wide, 160-degree field of view afforded by Axon Body 4’s camera meant the device could be used on its own in a wider variety of places while still capturing a complete record of truth. Meanwhile, the device’s built-in support for live streaming video through Axon Respond meant it wasn’t just a tool for establishing truth after the fact — it could also help officers and their teams work more safely and effectively in the middle of tense situations.

The Results

In light of these promising findings, the department empowered officers to mount their POV accessories on their shoulders to suit their individual needs and preferences. Detectives began to leverage the flexible recording power of Axon Body 4 by attaching the units to their service vests. Even command staff started wearing Axon Body 4 in their interactions with the public, helping the department demonstrate an even more steadfast commitment to transparency and accountability.

“It's enabled us to capture the best evidence but capture it in a manner where all personnel involved in contact with the community will have some sort of video and audio recording,” Hernandez said. “This increases and improves our commitment to shared trust when we speak to the community about something that may have happened.”

Hernandez added that Flagstaff PD’s transition to Axon Body 4 was “seamless” and quickly increased the total amount of evidence captured by the department. He observed another encouraging change after his department began to use the cameras in combination with Axon Respond, which allows officers to share their live Axon Body 4 feed and location with support teams and other officers when needed.

“Looking at other officers’ perspectives during live-streamed responses helps boost morale and increases officer safety.”

Testing on Axon Body 4 is now complete, thanks in no small part to the help of Flagstaff PD and other beta trial partner agencies. It’s now available for purchase on its own or as part of the complete Axon Officer Safety Plan, where Axon Body 4’s enhanced integration with Axon Evidence, real-time support capabilities through Axon Respond, holistic video capture with Axon Fleet and many more benefits come together in one comprehensive package.

Contact us for a demo today to see how Axon Body 4 can help your agency establish truth and build trust, all more conveniently and reliably than ever before.