FORT WORTH (CBS I-TEAM) — The City of Fort Worth has armed hundreds of police officers with body cameras. Now, the contract to purchase those cameras is being called into question.
Mayor Betsy Price says she and other city leaders believe their $2.7 million dollar body camera contract with Taser International is legally sound. But there is some concern over former Fort Worth Police Chief Jeffrey Halsted’s relationship with the company. The I-Team uncovered that relationship included free trips from Taser International and help from city employees when crafting their bid for the City of Fort Worth.
Halstead spoke on behalf of Taser International on several occasions, while he was still Fort Worth’s Police Chief. In October 2012, he was the featured speaker at a conference in San Diego. The following year in May, he was speaking on Taser’s behalf again in Grapevine. Five months later, he was in Philadelphia, and in July 2014, he spoke at a conference in Miami.
Investigative Reporter Mireya Villarreal spoke with Mayor Price about these trips and emails between Halstead and a Taser International sales representative, “Is what Chief Halstead did, his relationship with Taser, ethical? Does it follow the city’s policies?”
Price answered, “It follows the city’s policies. I’m not going to pass judgment on whether it was ethical or not. But I will tell you we are going to go back and review our ethics policies.”
Emails the I-Team obtained through an Open Records request uncover several conversations between Halstead and Taser International sales representative Andrew Grayson. In the emails, the two are talking about a multimillion dollar contract for these body cameras.
In March 2014, Halstead tries to explain why the city can’t give Taser International $254,250 by June 30th. He writes, “dollars have been taken to keep the public safety training center on schedule.”
Ten days later, Halstead tells the representative he was “successful in getting the first of my 2 approvals.” But Halstead states he doesn’t think the “city manager will fast track the contract within 8 calendar days.”
On March 16, Grayson responds by reminding Halstead Fort Worth would only get a discount if the deal is signed in that quarter. If they can’t get the deal done, it will be taken off the table. Grayson asks what Taser International can do “to help convince the city manager to sign soon”.