By The Associated Press
Then-Fort Worth Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead and Taser International had a close relationship before and after the city signed a contract to purchase body cameras last year. Email communications and travel expense reports obtained by The Associated Press through a state open records request show how Halstead kept the company informed as he lobbied for the contract internally and accepted travel to events paid for by the company in the following months:
— February 2014: Taser gives Fort Worth an estimate for providing 400 Axon body cameras and a five-year subscription to its Evidence.com storage program.
— March 4, 2014: Taser salesman Andrew Grayson informs Halstead the company will give a discount if the contract is signed by March 31. Halstead responds: “Close of the month? I do not wear a cape or have x-ray vision you know… I’m working it but losing millions to the Academy project hurt us bad.”
— March 14: Halstead writes Grayson: “FYI…I was very successful today getting the first of my 2 approvals.”
— March 16: Grayson reiterates the March 31 deadline. “Our CFO and exec team agreed to the huge discount and net terms in order to get it in this quarter … I feel there is a 99.9 percent probability that this deal will be taken off the table — even if 24 hours short. That said, what can we do to help convince the city manager to sign with you prior to that? Let’s get creative!”
— March 17: Halstead tells Grayson: “I have ONE more small hurdle but I did my job this morning …someone should give me a raise.” He writes another email telling Taser representatives the City Council will vote March 25 and “I have the votes.”
— March 25: Council approves contract worth up to $2.7 million over 5 ½ years.
— April 27-29: Taser pays for Halstead to attend a technology summit at its Scottsdale, Arizona headquarters. He delivers a speech, posted on Taser’s website, in which he praises its body cameras, Evidence.com and customer service.
— June 10: Taser asks the city to adopt a software upgrade that would save officers’ time uploading video but cost an additional $108,000 annually. Halstead responds angrily: “It would have been MUCH easier if I would have known this when structuring the current contract. I have literally exhausted all spending accounts (including political capital) and could not even fathom approaching Council on this any time in the near future … I cannot even discuss this in a public setting because it will appear we were taken advantage of. Our Council will go absolutely nuts and I would not blame them.” Taser agrees to give the upgrade at no cost.
— July 16 -17: Taser pays airfare and lodging for Halstead to be a guest speaker at a marketing event in Miami.
— July 26-30: Taser pays for Halstead and a companion to fly to Boston, where he is a guest speaker at a Taser use-of-force seminar.
— Jan. 9, 2015: Halstead retires from the city of Fort Worth.
— Jan. 15: In a Facebook post for his newly formed consulting company, Halstead praises Taser for providing “a great product AND amazing service” and transforming policing.
— Feb. 19: Halstead helps host a Taser technology summit at California Highway Patrol headquarters in Sacramento, where 100 law enforcement officials come to learn about body cameras. He tells the AP that he hopes to become an “official consultant” for Taser before he travels to Australia and United Arab Emirates to speak at similar events in March.
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