Emails put APD, Taser relationship in question

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Former APD Chief Ray Schultz helped make Albuquerque one of Taser’s biggest clients before he retired.

Now he’s on Taser’s payroll.

“I actually started after I retired so I started talking in October,” Schultz told KRQE News 13 in a February interview. “After I retired, they asked if I’d be willing to come and share some of our experiences so I agreed to do that.”

Emails obtained by News 13 show his speaking gig, and a multi-million dollar city contract with Taser International signed in September, were in the works long before that.

A timeline of the events leading to Schultz’s retirement as Chief of APD shows a correlation with the events leading to the city signing off on a nearly $2 million, 5-year contract for Taser Axon Flex cameras, online storage and accessories.

According to city documents, on January 17, 2013 APD extended an open-ended contract for Taser equipment and supplies, such as Taser guns, for another two years. The cost to the taxpayers under that particular contract so far: $1,465,138.50 and counting, according to the City’s online transparency portal.

The next day, Schultz met with Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry and informed him of his plans to retire in the summer or fall, according to a letter Schultz sent to Perry.

In February, a Power Point presentation created by Taser reps for APD brass shows the plan to outfit the department with Taser lapel cams had been in the works for a while.

A slide with a list of “Action Items” says Schultz gave Taser information on how many cameras they’d need for “total deployment.”

It also says Taser already had a “firm implementation and training schedule for soft and hard roll-out.”

On March 13, the city approved a request to fund that soft roll-out–more than $100,000 for 75 Taser lapel cameras.

That same day, Schultz addresses a letter to CAO Rob Perry, putting his plans to retire in writing.

“A major computer upgrade is scheduled for this summer that has been in the works for two years,” he wrote, adding that he wanted to “ensure the success” of the project.

On March 15, Schultz made his retirement announcement public.

In May, Taser asks Schultz to speak at a Texas law enforcement conference and he agreed.

Two days later, Taser salesman Andrew Grayson sends Schultz an email saying it was nice to meet Schultz’s wife, and asking for advice about what he “should not bring up” with APD’s purchasing officer in a meeting.

“Just looking for command guidance on this,” Grayson writes. Schultz does not reply by email.

On July 17, Grayson again asks for “command guidance” from Schultz about a scheduled a city meeting.

Schultz doesn’t write any “guidance” through email, but sends a reply mentioning he made a presentation about success with Taser products at a law enforcement conference.

The next day, Grayson sends a 5 year, $1.95 million quote to APD for Taser Axon Flex cameras and online storage.

That same day, Schultz publicly announces his last official day as APD Chief will be August 3 (though he would stay with APD as a consultant for another month).

On August 28, Schultz sends a note to Taser salesman Grayson as an “FYI” about his last day with APD on September 6.

“I will still have the ear of the Mayor/CAO on department issues,” Schultz writes.

“If there’s anything I can do for you or Taser, especially to talk about my/our experiences, please let me know,” he says.

An hour later, Grayson writes back asking on “insight” for going before City Council for a final presentation on cameras.

In the same email he adds, “Is consulting something you’d consider?”

Shultz replies with, “Sure,” adding, “As for the TRC meeting, everything has been greased so it should go without any issues.”

In an email to News 13, Schultz says he used a “poor choice of words” and explains the comment this way: “The account representative had offered to provide technical assistance in reference to explaining Cloud storage. APD declined that assistance due to the expertise of the Technical Review Committee and them already having been briefed on the use of the cloud as a storage platform.”

City Denies Code Violations

During a February interview, Schultz told News 13 the cameras went through a bid process. But the City later confirmed the camera contract did not go out for bid.

They offered multiple, and differing, reasons for why it was exempt from the bid process.

Many companies make lapel cameras.

The City declined multiple requests for an on-camera interview about the Taser contract.

Through a City spokesperson, Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry sent a statement through a City spokesperson saying, “The use of the term “greased” by former Chief Schultz in a single email is a poor choice of words, however, the purchasing process indicates no wrongdoing.”

“This purchase was approved through City Legal, Procurement, and the Technical Review Committees to comply with purchasing rules and regulations,” the email said.

Schultz used similar language when he backed out of a scheduled interview with News 13.

“I did use a poor choice in words in my email to the Taser account representative,” Schultz said in an email. “All proper purchasing and review procedures were followed.”

In the course of our investigation, News 13 uncovered other emails that put into question APD’s relationship with the vendor.

Emails we obtained show Schultz told Deputy Attorney Kathy Levy to register for a free nightclub event sponsored by Taser in San Diego during the 2012 International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference.

News 13 asked Levy whether registering or accepting free tickets to the party at Stingaree Night Club was a violation of the City’s Code of Ethics pertaining to accepting gifts from vendors.

In an email, Levy told News 13, “There as no violation of the City Code of Ethics.”

She declined to explain why.

Banks told News 13 he registered for tickets but did not attend.

Schultz declined an interview.

Issues with Implementation

In a September meeting the Technology Review Committee (the City group that vets tech-related purchases), APD’s Sgt. Robert Drager, along with Grayson, made a presentation about the benefits of the camera.

“The limitations of the current body worn camera at APD are increasingly evident, causing lost, missed data, and increasing costs,” the TRC agenda said in a statement attributed Drager. “Piloting of the Axon Flex camera has been positive and, while more expensive up front, the improved device will lead to better functionality and lower costs in the long run.”

APD, however, continues to have problems with lapel cameras, and not just with the latest officer involved shooting.

According to APD’s monthly report from January, APD staff met with the District Attorney’s office to “review the progress of the Taser camera pilot project.” It says APD is working with Taser to solve problems with titling videos.

“Some files have duplicate titles for videos that are totally unrelated,” it said.

Two weeks ago, a department memo said upload speeds were the biggest issue with the cameras and online storage.

This week, APD issued another department memo, saying there were “concerns” that officers weren’t entering their Taser camera videos into evidence.

Taser declined multiple requests for an interview.

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