Recordings from law enforcement conferences reveal how tech companies are lobbying cops for contracts
Police officer is holding with a rifle Shutterstock

Vice News tech reporter Joseph Cox walked around the National Sheriffs' Association (NSA) conference in Washington, D.C. and what he overheard was astounding.

Reporting Wednesday, Cox recalled the moment he overheard a representative of a tech company talking to law enforcement officers about ways to get their chiefs on board. The Axon tech rep promised a hunting trip for the chief and other senior law enforcement members so he could pitch them. Axon produces tasers, smart weapons, body cameras and other related tools.

"You guys have boatloads of money and if it was me, and I worked for you, I would contact that farm and have a hunting day” with the chief, Vice quoted an officer. “You’d have him all to yourself on a farm with a dog squad. You know, bang, bang, bang. Bring the chiefs up. I’ll tell you right now, you might as well bring the contracts up with you and it’s a done deal."

So, essentially, the company can lobby law enforcement directly and get those departments to request the implementation of expensive technologies. Axon thanked the officer for the information.

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"What the officer and the Axon representative did not know was that Jack Poulson, from transparency organization Tech Inquiry and who was standing near the men, was secretly recording their conversation," said Vice. "Poulson was attending the conference and recording candid conversations like this one. He also filmed seminars and talks held throughout the day while displaying his camera. Eventually, organizers and speakers realized he was recording."

The result was that he was able to capture cops joking about getting law enforcement robots to infiltrate women's locker rooms. Dataminr, a company that does Twitter analysis is doing some "drone stuff," something their spokesperson denied. Axon has agreements with drone manufacturers to feed data into their software line.

The videos also revealed that "the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a Southern Poverty Law Center designated hate group, had a booth in the event’s exhibitors hall," said the report.

One comment overheard at the Axon booth was about a "leader" who "disappears" people if they're "illegal in his country."

Retired cop and SafeFlight Corporation contractor John D. Abbey made it clear he knew he was being recorded when he spoke.

"I think there's gonna be a flood of money coming out. Because that's all politicians can do. They don't, they just don't have the mindset and the tools to deal with crime. That's what we're supposed to do, you're supposed to do. All they can do is give us money. Particularly before the election next year, there's gonna be, it's just gonna be an endless flood of money. So, I look forward to that," said Abbey.

Poulson explained that the latest buzzwords for police are “real-time crime centers” and “common operating pictures," but they're nothing more than justifications for real-time monitoring of Americans.

After recording for several days, he was asked to delete the footage.

"We’ve also had sheriffs come up to us and complain about being recorded in seminars. So, if you have any recordings, I’d please ask you to delete them,” a National Sheriffs Association member said.

See the full report at Vice News.