Austin body cam bid process questioned in court

FILE- In this Jan. 15, 2014 file photo, a Los Angeles Police officer wears an on-body camera during a demonstration for media in Los Angeles. Some Los Angeles police officers are now equipped with the body cameras while on patrol. Police Commission President Steve Soboroff says Monday, Aug. 31, 2015 that the first wave of 860 cameras has been rolled out to more than 100 Mission Division officers who patrol the San Fernando Valley. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The head of the company that lost the bid for Austin’s police body camera contract was in civil court Wednesday fighting for a reversal.

Attorneys for Utility Associates argued the City of Austin’s bid process was rigged in favor of TASER International. They showed court exhibits meant to demonstrate how TASER did not meet all the mandatory requirements for the $8 million contract. Council approved up to $12 million, police executives say.

One example cited was a requirement that the winning supplier’s solution allow officers to view video in the field using an ipod. Attorneys showed an internal city email from March in which a TASER representative replied to a city staff question that ipods were not part of its bid. Attorneys then showed the judge a transcript from a June 23 city council meeting where APD’s representative told council members there was a mobile viewing device included in the bid price. Council later approved a $5 million contract for iPhones for each officer to compliment the body camera project. It’s set to roll out by October on 500 officers.

Utility lawyers also showed scorecard results they contend city evaluation staff manually changed in favor of TASER. They also questioned the city procurement staff’s acceptance of TASER’s own cost sheet when they allege the city asked bidders to follow a formatted sheet. Utility’s lawyers say TASER should have been disqualified from the bid process as other competitors were.

Attorneys for the city argue Utility has no case. City attorney Matthew Tynan told the court Utility has no current legal injury and no proposed remedy under the Texas Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act.

Judge Orlinda Naranjo is being asked to rule on extending an existing injunction and ordering a full judicial review or civil court trial. July 14 she signed a restraining order halting any further roll out of the TASER contract pending the outcome of Wednesday’s hearing.

A decision is expected Friday.

Council Member Don Zimmerman who is up for re-election in November – was an early opponent of the city’s decision to contract with TASER and spoke to KXAN News at the time. During the pre-contract process, Zimmerman was critical of how he says he was shut out of the development of the RFP requirements and policy development. He tells KXAN News he was ‘stonewalled’ on what he calls reasonable technical questions.

 

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