Austin Activist Debbie Russell Asks the Hard Questions About TASER’s BodyCam Bid
Debbie’s letter to Austin City Council:
Attaching my updated chart… see the new Houston numbers.
The “Houston.bodycams.faqs” attachment was an addendum to their contract approval item and as we are trying to do, they got some of the bigger procedural and policy issues down first before approving the contract. It also spells out that they bought the equipment only from WatchGuard, and chose to set up their own data storage, at a cost of a mere $236,100! They are paying way less than any other Taser-bodycam cities and saving enormously on storage by doing it themselves at a small one-time cost.
WatchGuard didn’t apply with Austin –and maybe they didn’t because maybe our RFP said they wanted vendors who offered both data storage and equipment to apply. I wouldn’t know b/c I’m not allowed to see the RFP. But why wouldn’t we look at the different cost options?
I’ve gotten a hold of a protest Utility made with the City /and the City’s response (attached) –they are the vendor that scored higher on cost than Taser.
Through this protest, it is clear the RFP was written to favor Taser from the get-go. It didn’t specify/rank some of the technical needs that APD now says they want with the addition of $5million in phones; and still the Taser/iPhone combo lacks a few important features the Utility cam provides. This is either crazy mismanagement or downright complicity with a preferred vendor. (How soon is Ott “retiring”?)
One MAJOR feature Taser lacks that Utility has is spot redaction. Taser says they can redact (and were scored well for that ability) but they can only redact the WHOLE image–it can’t redact specific portions of the video…meaning if we get Taser, we’re going to have to hire extra staff to manually do so. Utility’s proposal was for $9.6million (data storage included), so with Tasers, phones, extra admin*, we’re talking $18M+! Twice as much as Utility, with less tech capabilities.
So when the city’s response to the protest says “Technical requirement ## of the RFP doesn’t require *something*” they fail to address that APD decided LATER that they want the iphone to fill that after-the-fact requirement that wasn’t included/graded in the RFP.
So what about the other vendors that didn’t get scored? They didn’t meet the tech requirements supposedly…well the tech requirements were only partial in the RFP…so maybe they’re gonna sue too (I can only assume Utility will). How much MORE will we spend in legal costs????
If we approve Taser, we’re talking +/-$20million before all is said and done. We should be, and have the option to be, spending less than half that.
PS: REMEMBER TO ASK HOW MUCH OF THE CONTRACT IS DATA STORAGE! (Recall in my talk last week, El Paso’s Taser contract: $1.65 of the $1.7 million contract is for data storage only, not equipment)
*ask APD how many unfunded tech positions there are currently…at least some of those they are hoping to get funded through this deal.