Taser shooting for some stimulus money

Well, if it's out there for the picking, why not try and get some, right? That's exactly what Taser (TASR) is trying to do with its recent lanuch of Taser 3.0. Taser is promising to help law enforcement agencies tap into the $3.8 billion allocated to them in the $787 billion stimulus bill, also known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Much of that money will be used to better equip law officers, and so the stun-gun maker has launched Taser 3.0 to catch some of that cash. Taser 3.0 is a new integrated digital multi-media evidence storage and management platform. It has two main features, Evidence.com and Taser Axon.

The Taser Axon is is a tactical computer, made of a head mounted camera officers can wear, which records audio and video. It is integrated with a radio earpiece and headphone, and is able to record video in color and low light. Officers also have a small tactical computer with a 4.3 inch touch screen display that enables playback and analysis of incident video and which they can put in a pocket. The purpose is to avoid false allegations and to bring such footage to court as evidence.

After recording the events, cops would plug the processing unit to a Synapse docking station, which would upload the videos automatically to Evidence.com. According to Taser, the transfer is encrypted with redundancies. Evidence.com is a "virtual evidence warehouse, offering digital storage in a highly secure, easily accessible environment." From there, cops and legal professionals may quickly access the evidence data.

(In case you were wondering, there is a privacy button cops can use to turn off the camera. This might cause complications in itself.)

Taser has found itself numerous times in the midst of controversy and lawsuits. While just last week yet another charge was dismissed against it, many question the claims of the company and the uses by law enforcement officers, who tend to use the Taser on persons often without just cause, or excessively. Two seniors were recently zapped by cops, a 65-year old naked senior, and a 67-year old woman was shocked after a chase. Without a Taser, police may have tried different methods to apprehend them.

While Taser has offered a Taser Cam -- a camera mounted on a Taser stun-gun -- Taser 3.0 isn't as limited and it isn't surprising the company is offering something like this. It will be interesting to see, however, if the videos provided by the system would help Taser's cause in convincing the public Tasers save lives or not.

What's most interesting in Taser's presentation, however, is the help Taser offers the agencies to tap into the "nearly $4 billion in federal Department of Justice grant opportunities contained in the stimulus package which will help fund the acquisition of new technologies." Taser is the major sponsor of PoliceGrantsHelp.com, which "features the most extensive law enforcement grant database available, with information on a wide range of available federal, state, local and corporate grant opportunities."

According to Merriman Curhan Ford analyst Eric Wold Taser's revenue could rise by $79 million to $98 million and its earnings per share by 42 cents to 52 cents just from the federal money. And it's not the only one. Smith&Wesson Holding Corp. (SWHC) could see sales rise as much as $47 billion to $147 billion with a resulting boost in earnings per share of 16 cents to 51 cents. Again, all from the stimulus money.

Of course, law enforcement agencies use public funds, but should the stimulus money, which aims to help the economy, reach gunmakers? While it's important law enforcement agencies are well funded, gunmakers don't seem to need the help, especially public money, as gun sales are shooting up. This may include the consumer model of Taser, the C2, which saw a 33 percent growth in 2008 to account for 6.8 percent of sales.

Officers should definitely be equipped with the best, the question is whether Taser products are it.
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