PATRICK YOES, FOP (00:51.304)
Well, Rick, thanks for joining us on a Blueview podcast. It's an honor to have you here. You know, you and I had a very long conversation when we were at our national FOP conference during the expo. And I really enjoyed talking to you about the technology on the evolution of policing 36 year law enforcement officer myself, I've seen I've seen the evolution of where we've gone to where we are today. And it was really refreshing to talk about technology not in a way that just makes our jobs easier, but makes it safer. And and talk about what's on the horizon. it as well. So thank you for joining us to talk about technology and policing. Before we do that, let's tell our viewers and listeners a little bit about yourself.
RICK SMITH, AXON (01:31.207)
Yeah, so my background, I studied neurobiology. I was a science fiction geek. I actually recently found my essay that I wrote on my college entrance application was that I wanted to build robotic limbs. I was fascinated by Luke Skywalker's robotic hand and this idea that the human machine could interface with things that we make.
And by the way, it's crazy the world we live in now. Just in the past couple of decades, the number of people with bionic hips and shoulders and knees, this stuff didn't exist 30 years ago. And yet in today's world, the economic value of artificial hips is bigger than all of Hollywood combined. These are enormous new industries. I have a board of director who she could barely walk and now she's running around like she's 20 again, she had both hips replaced.
So anyways, I started there at the intersection of technology and biology. And then when I was in grad school, two of my high school football teammates were shot and killed in a road rage incident in a golf resort parking lot in Scottsdale, Arizona. And that just drove home to me this, like the world is unfortunately kind of a violent place and it's not just somewhere else in someone else's neighborhood, it impacts all of us. And the other thing that struck me was
The guy who killed my two friends is now spending his life in jail. He was a business consultant who had a gun and a bit of a temper. And I don't think he intended to murder anyone that day. Like life is complicated. Like, you know, when people get in conflicts, rationality can go out the window and things can spiral out of control. And the other thing that struck me was, how is it that in the year 1990, back then, that the state of the art, the way we defend ourselves is the same way
like the British pirates in the Caribbean, like the 1600s, right? We're shooting red balls at each other. And, you know, science fiction, many times, the arts can imagine the future before we know how to make it, right? Like rocket ships appeared in books and airplanes before they became reality. Well, you can look at, you know, Captain Kirk didn't shoot bullets at people anymore starting in the 1960s. There was this vision of maybe we could make energy weapons that would do the thing we want,
RICK SMITH, AXON (03:53.234)
someone who might be trying to hurt you and do it in a way that doesn't require taking somebody's life in the process. And so I immediately shifted my focus away from I had wanted to build machines that the human body and brain could control to instead building machines that can control the human body. And that's basically what a taser is. It uses electricity to lock up your muscles in a way that does not require causing any physical long-term damage. It just paralyzes you temporarily.
And by the way, this wasn't my idea. Initially, the original taser inventor was one of the chief scientists on the Apollo project back in the 1960s. And I found him literally through 411, which I now have to explain to many of my younger employees. You have no idea what 411 is, because the world has changed. And I was 23 at the time, and he was 73. And I convinced him, I was like, hey, let's give this thing another shot. We need to bring Captain Kirk's phaser to reality. And you've got the best tech I've seen, this Taser weapon dating back to the 70s. And here I am now, 30 years later, where we've got a whole host of different technologies, but the thing that, and it really, what you said to me earlier was really appreciated in a heartfelt sense when you said that, you know, you didn't feel like I was trying to sell you anything, that it was really about the technology. I do get really excited, I think.
When we solve problems with technology, it is durable in a way. Like once mankind determined how to make clean water, the world, most of the world never went back, right? We now all drink clean water, indoor plumbing, and you just keep going down the list. Yeah, you take it for granted. Now we fly in these aluminum tubes at 600 miles an hour and we can be on the opposite side of the earth in 12 hours. Like that is magical. And then we get focused on, ah, you know.
PATRICK YOES, FOP (05:29.08)
Right. Taking for granted. Take it for granted. If they're not delayed. If they're not delayed.
RICK SMITH, AXON (05:46.306)
They weren't serving my favorite meal or the flight was two hours late and we take it so for granted. It's like this magical thing happened and even though it was some minor tweak, it could have been better. And I just try to maintain a sense of wide-eyed appreciation for the amazing things that are changing the way we live every day.
PATRICK YOES, FOP (06:09.184)
I wrote a story one time, it was an article in a magazine and I needed to talk about technology how it evolved and I used my grandfather as an example of him watching two brothers in Baton Rouge, the Ryan brothers fly this contraction.
and crashing inside of a barn. And, and then, you know, fast forward to where we are, you know, in his later years, to things that we take for granted today, they all started, they all started with the passion of someone, you know, in innovation and bringing us to where we are. And I liken that to law enforcement, you know, when I started in 1984, and pinned on a badge and went to work every day, look at by the time I left 36 years later, how everything has evolved. And that
years is nothing compared to probably what we're seeing in the last 10. It really is exciting and a lot of ways to see the how technology when I first started, you know, 39, five radio, you know, which if we were walking over each other to now we have seamless communications, it's just what an evolution. And so I really want to talk about tech technology, but you touched on something and I think it's important. We all have things that drive us, you know, sort of a defining moment in our life. And you mentioned that you lost two friends. And you watched it.
unfold and that is a little bit of your inspiration, isn't it of finding taser to find some solution to have less than lethal approach. Could you talk a little bit about that?
RICK SMITH, AXON (07:35.135)
Yeah, I mean, ultimately, it strikes me as bizarre that technology has changed everything about the way we live. Even in my lifetime, it has changed so much. Yet, for some reason, the area of how we defend ourselves, interpersonal self-defense, has not changed very much in a few hundred years. Yes, we've gone from muzzleloaders to revolvers to semi-automatic.
pistols. But compare that to what happened in transportation. We went from horses to airplanes and rocket ships. Medicine, we went from leeches and like amputating limbs, you know, with a swig of alcohol to now personalized genetics. I think this is an area where tech could make a huge difference. Because ultimately, look, when especially for police officers, when they use lethal force, they never use it because it's lethal. They use it because it's reliable.
RICK SMITH, AXON (08:31.902)
And it has this horrible side effect that, oh yeah, it actually kills someone, that that's the only way you can stop them effectively. That is a solvable problem in my estimation. And by the way, we've solved it in the lab. We have, in the laboratory, if I hook you up to a modern taser weapon, you're done. You will not be able to respond. But out in the real world, people don't hold still. We don't get to put the two darts on them. We've got to get the probes through the clothing. There's engineering challenges ahead of us, and we're working hard on those.
But this doesn't require any black magic or voodoo or things that require a fundamental change in the physics of the universe. We can get to a point, we're just working on the delivery systems. How do we get these neurological effects to 100% reliable delivery in the next couple of decades?
PATRICK YOES, FOP (09:18.996)
You know, I tell some people think that law enforcement officers are all out there, we all carry guns and, you know, wild west, you know, but in reality, when in law enforcement officer has to use deadly force, life change. And it's not just the, you know, on both sides of this issue, law enforcement officers lives change as well. So that avenue, the ability to be able to de escalate things that are there on that, you know, forced continuum, those less than
PATRICK YOES, FOP (09:49.654)
But I. And I'd like to for you to, you know, we talked about how technologies changed, you know, in my 36 years, you know, you've been doing this since 1993. I look at where we were in 1993. When when they were talking about tasers, I was a little skeptical at first, because I was, you know, just brought up in a different era. And then I recognize the impact that it had. And but it's not just tasers. Let's talk about that evolution in 1993. I want to talk about what's on the future before we can talk about the future. I need to talk about what was the future in 1993.
and where we get today and how it has evolved. And then we'll open the door to what we have coming on the horizon.
RICK SMITH, AXON (10:28.11)
Well, the thing that is, to me, super exciting about the public safety space is not the progress we have made, but what is potential still. There's so much opportunity. Like, for example, when I was born in 1970, the state-of-the-art of how people communicated was a rotary dial telephone. You remember these. You can't even find those anymore. You have to go to a museum to find them. And, in the 1970s, police were basically using push-to-talk radios.
Now, as I stand here today, yes, there's some things have changed, but fundamentally, the way we communicate as consumers is just dramatically different. We do like you and I are doing right now, video conferencing, whether it's via Zoom or Facebook or any of a number of different platforms, we have these very social media platforms that allow us to share memories and to share experiences in real time or in storylines. So I see...
Yes, we've made some progress. There have been a number of things that have changed. I think the Taser has gone from zero to pretty ubiquitous. Body cameras, 10 years ago, nobody had them, and now they're becoming standard issue equipment. The connection of cloud software into policing, I think, is probably the most important for accelerating the future. Because that was a shift. When Apple invented the iPod, the last thing the world needed was another MP3 player. There were dozens and dozens and dozens of music players.
But they were really hard to use, because you had to go get some pirating software, download some shady website, and then getting, the music industry actually didn't want you to take the music off their CDs and put it on your MP3 player, so you had to almost break copyright laws. Well, you did, you had to break the copyright laws to get the music on your player, and then Apple sort of connected this all together with the iTunes store and the cloud, and now music companies don't even make CDs anymore. We just, we download it over the internet, and we move at the speed of now.
technology shifts, you know, chat GPT is one of the latest to think about this new artificial intelligence software. Well, forget what it does. One of the most impressive things about it, chat GPT with the worst branding name in history. Like it is not Coca Cola or, you know, McDonald's chat GPT. That technology went from zero to a hundred million users in something like 30 days. Like that would have been impossible in the old AOL world of mailing people disks and da da. So anyway.
RICK SMITH, AXON (12:54.218)
We've seen these changes in the last 30 years, but I think the next 30 years are going to be mind-blowing, because now that law enforcement is sort of connecting into the technology providers, whether it's us or any of the other tech companies that service policing, we're going to see this acceleration, where new capabilities are coming out much, much faster than in the past decades.
PATRICK YOES, FOP (13:15.252)
You know, it's funny you bring up iPods. Actually, yesterday was going through some stuff and found my iPod. And I could look at I kind of held it for a minute saying, man, my how the world has changed. Just just in that brief period of time. And
RICK SMITH, AXON (13:30.494)
Yeah, and then the change when your iPod suddenly became a phone.
PATRICK YOES, FOP (13:35.06)
Yeah, yeah, exactly. And then and then cameras, everybody got everybody has a camera. Yeah. So just the whole the entire evolution of that, you know, you know, somebody who watched
taser grow into to what it is, it's much more than just less than lethal. You've got a whole a whole suite of opportunities for law enforcement officers to be much more professional, much more efficient. Let's talk about where we are today, that evolution I brought you what's the things that are today and then we'll talk about what's on the horizon.
RICK SMITH, AXON (14:08.49)
Yeah, so we started with the Taser weapon, and then we got into the, we actually created the body camera space largely because when Taser was finally successful in the early 2000s, it became so controversial. Like, you may remember this, like there were headlines. You know.
PATRICK YOES, FOP (14:25.544)
I remember. I do I do remember. Yeah.
RICK SMITH, AXON (14:29.106)
Everybody was saying, oh, the police are torturing me. They're doing all these horrible things. I actually sat at a defense table in Northern California with two officers defending a case. This was a guy who died in police custody. And like, it was pretty clear he died from methamphetamines. Long history of abuse. There was a delay between the taser strike and et cetera. But the point was the story the family was telling was so different than what the officers told me they saw.
And I remember sitting there like, if you're a juror, what do you do? You just have to choose, like, do I believe the cops? Or do I believe this family that's telling me this very emotional story? And the other thing I learned was, police, you don't get to tell stories, you don't get to be emotional, you have to be precise. Right, if somebody in the public tells a lie, no, it's not a big deal, there's no repercussion. Officer gets caught in a lie once, that could be the end of their career. Big implications for the agency.
So what happens, you get the family that comes in and they're telling this very emotional story. These police officers were these jackbooted thugs doing these terrible things, all this color and emotional power. And then the officers would get on the stand and they'd say, well, you know, Mr. H in this case was doing X, Y, and Z. They're very clinical and precise because they have to be. And it was in that moment during that week when I was co-defending that case with these officers, we said, look, we gotta record what you guys are saying. Like.
You are at such a disadvantage to the emotion and the freedom to embellish that other people who accuse you of things have. You don't get that. You're an agent of a government agency that's highly constrained to be very precise and non-emotional. We need to show the world what you're seeing. And that was the birth of the body camera. And then the body camera, we quickly realized, would never spread, because agencies would have no way to manage all the data.
And that's where we took some inspiration from Apple. We basically said, look, what made the Apple iPod great wasn't the piece of hardware, it was the hardware software ecosystem where the challenge on your music player is how do I get all my songs onto my device? For police with body cameras, the question would be, how do I get all my videos off my device, somewhere safe, with good security, and then I've got to be able to share with my sergeant and the prosecutor and all that.
Yeah, insecure, without a doubt. And it has certainly changed. It's changed policing. You know, there are courts now that say if they don't, there's not video didn't happen. Well, I mean, I don't I don't quite on I can't wrap my head around that. It doesn't mean a crime didn't occur. It's just well, the courts are leaning so much now on video, video evidence that it kind of overshadows some of the things that were old school, you know, police work.
RICK SMITH, AXON (17:17.571)
It does, but one sign of success to me is the critics who 15 years ago were saying, every cop's got to wear a camera because we've got to find all these bad cops. Now they're saying, well, I don't know if we should keep these body cameras because they're not really finding bad cops. The cops are now using it to prosecute the public.
PATRICK YOES, FOP (17:33.748)
Now, Rick, I'm gonna tell you what they're doing. You know what, you know what, look, this is anytime there's a human element is always gonna be uncertainty. Anytime there's an escalation or a lack of, a lack to, you know, not complying with lawful orders, there's always gonna be an escalation.
But what you're going to find and I've said it all along, you know, I remember, you know, when, when video cameras, you know, when body cameras came out at first, you know, I remember telling people, look, we're not that far away from everybody having a camera on it. I remember officers scratching their heads saying, I don't see it, it was too futuristic for it to happen. And then we were just a few years later, you know, having them, it's not so much the cameras, as you say, it's the, the problem is more the archiving and the accessibility of the files. And how do you, you know, how do you, you know, manage all that, but all that aside, you know, the
is we find ourselves now in a completely different space, where body cameras are important because as you said, a lot of people thought it was going to show cops that we're not doing a good job, what it's showing is law enforcement officers doing an amazing job on the very stressful situations. And more often than not, you're finding that's what you're finding as opposed to the, you know, the rarity of, you know, things that are, you know, just, you know, not justifiable, the reality of where we are.
RICK SMITH, AXON (18:50.085)
Yeah. And for me, that's been just tremendous justification. I remember hearing those officers and thinking back, you know, 15 years ago in that situation, they were called by a family that was under assault from their 40-year-old son who had a severe drug problem. It was an unwinnable situation.
RICK SMITH, AXON (19:10.874)
And they were being accused of all sorts of, frankly, it was so dramatic. You could, I didn't believe, you know, what was being said against them, but there was no way to disprove it. And I think that's one of the things I'm most proud about body cameras is it has come out and shown, yeah, you know what I mean? Officers are doing a thankless job in unwinnable environments every day. And they do amazing work. And look, every now and then somebody loses it. They crack under the pressure or like, you know what?
PATRICK YOES, FOP (19:33.708)
Absolutely. is a human element.
as a human element, it's all we always going to have doesn't matter to profession, we just, you know, police are the people to pick on nowadays. So we tend to get it we're called to manage all of these conflicts in people's lives. And, you know, in a lot of cases, you got to need somebody to blame. And law enforcement, it was always, always been on the receiving end of all of that. But that's just a strange where we live it. You know, you mentioned you were, you know, sitting there where officers were responding to a home.
of called by the family because their son Hey, why they had substance abuse or mental illness, whatever it is. You know, we're called to referee through those things. And unfortunately, that very scenario plays out every single day over and over and over. In America, across America and puts law enforcement and families in a very difficult situation. Hence, goes back to the lesson lethal and the opportunities to be able to try and defuse some of these things. But that
one of the greatest challenges for law enforcement today. You know, dealing with people who are either mental illness or substance abuse and having to, you know, you never know, whether they're going to escalate to the point where it's it could be deadly and you can almost hear the frustration and families.
PATRICK YOES, FOP (21:00.692)
Um, you know, families calling for some help, they just can't live like that. And yet, yet we show up and find ourselves in a same situation. And, you know, over and over and over. It's a challenge for law enforcement. So and body camera, lesson lethal, all of these things have been some great tools to help us manage through that.
RICK SMITH, AXON (21:20.057)
Well, you know, the state of the tech today, there's one other big piece I want to share that for me, this is a learning journey with each new piece of technology, you uncover new opportunities and new problems.
And so for us, once we built this digital evidence management system that could handle all these video files, then the next question is, well, what valuable information is hidden away in those videos? Because those videos are no longer on a disk or on a VHS tape in a warehouse, it's on a computer. And we could do something with that. And so about five years ago, well, maybe seven years ago now, we started investing pretty heavily in a record management system. And the thesis was really simple.
I spent a lot of my time talking to cops, and then I spent a fair amount of my time going to conferences on technology trends and evolution. And AI has been big on people's minds for the past decade. And the takeaway I had was, look, some point in the next 10, 15 years, an artificial intelligence computer program could take a body camera video and write a police officer's report, at least the first draft.
for them based on all the information. Like you can take your body camera video, give it to a secretary and he could write it. A computer should be able to do that at some point. So that's the whole reason we got into records management. Not because we wanted to build an RRS system, but we felt if we could extract the record from the body camera, it'd be hugely valuable because cops tell me they spend between a third and half of their day, half of their shift as data entry clerks. They sit there hunting and pecking, typing up reports. And that's it.
RICK SMITH, AXON (22:53.834)
It's actually really exciting right now because our record management system, even just as a cloud-based RMS, I think we're in four or five major cities out of the 60-ish major cities and growing, but we haven't even done the piece yet that's going to make it so exciting, which is to take your body camera and extract the first draft of the report. But that's something that we're prototyping right now. And with some of the new, you know, this chat, GPT, artificial intelligence has had a wild year.
the capabilities are just mind blowing, and that's unlocking the potential that we saw. It's just coming in actually faster than we thought it would even get here.
PATRICK YOES, FOP (23:32.052)
Yeah, no doubt. Yeah. So I do a couple things I want to talk about, but I also want to recently had the opportunity to go through some of the training, the virtual training that you have to talk a little bit about why we talk about we talking about these products. But we're also talking about what how to, you know, how do we train officers to be better officers with this technology, and you've got a great platform for that.
RICK SMITH, AXON (23:55.519)
Yeah, so I would first take a step back and say, you know, we look at our military and, you know, we look at the difficult job they do, but they have this one key advantage. The military generally trains 95% of the time and they're doing missions 5% of the time. It's the reverse, right? Like, you maybe get 5% of your time for training and 95% to do the mission. And oh, by the way, the mission isn't as...
PATRICK YOES, FOP (24:12.undefined)
it's the other way around law enforcement
RICK SMITH, AXON (24:22.746)
I don't want to say it's simple, but as clear as it can be with a military, doing military operations, you're in your hometown dealing with everything from domestic arguments, like these are your friends and neighbors. It's much more complex, I would say, than warfare, and they get a lot less training. So again, we tend to look, my job is to kind of look at what's happening in interesting tech spaces, talk to police leaders, talk to...
frontline officers, trainers, and association leaders, and try to identify, okay, what are the big problems that map onto tech? And so one of the more recent ones was virtual reality. These VR headsets create real opportunities to do large scale, low cost, repetitive, where training doesn't mean going into a classroom and sitting and falling asleep during a PowerPoint, could we put people into immersive experiences where we could put them through and get just tons of reps?
dealing with highly complex situations to make sure they know how to use their taser effectively. I'll tell you, like, we're really proud of the tasers we make, but we know the cartridges are expensive. And if an officer only gets to fire one or two cartridges a year compared to the thousands of bullets they fire, they're just going to be more comfortable and more proficient with their gun than they could ever be with a taser. Well, now we're basically building it like, hey, you can fire a few thousand rounds in VR, and there's zero marginal cost. We can help get you to that same level of proficiency.
in the new tech that's just not as cheap to train with in the old world. So I'm really excited, whoops, sorry, about what's coming in the next, so excited I almost knocked my screen over here, in the next couple years here.
PATRICK YOES, FOP (26:01.416)
Yeah, you know, I want to I want to talk about the goal of axon and working towards reducing gun related deaths, involving police in a public by 50% in the next 10 years, I want to talk about, about that collaboration and a little bit of the goal of what moon what moonshot is and what the goal is.
RICK SMITH, AXON (26:23.65)
Yeah, so part of this is to try to focus the public conversation. So every time we bring out a new taser weapon or something, look, there's a lot of naysayers out there and there's people who say, well, you know, I don't trust the police. You know, they're just going to abuse somebody with this technology or torture them or do some horrible thing. And what we're trying to say, look, you know,
there's always gonna be edge cases in humanity where there's, you know, some bad thing happens. But fundamentally, let's focus on what is the big problem we're trying to solve here? And for us, it has been, we're trying to find alternatives to shooting people. Now, to do that, we're gonna have to make Taser weapons that are more aggressive. We're gonna have to extend the range. We're gonna have to give you more shots. So...
Before we launched Taser 10, we were working on a 10 shot semi-automatic, magazine fed, long range taser. Now to the critic, they can look at that and say, well why would we give police this? Because I've seen instances where I think they've been abusive with a one shot taser, why should they get 10 shots? And the answer is very simple. Yeah, because sometimes you miss, and when you miss, it escalates and people get shot and killed. So the reason to give an officer more shots is to give them more attempts to save a life.
So this whole moonshot was really to try to focus the conversation rather than, hey, rather than imagining the few things that might go wrong, what is the big problem that we believe is worth solving? And across the board, whether you are a member of Black Lives Matter or a police association or wherever you lie on that spectrum, we found people pretty universally agree, yeah, this would be a good idea.
if we could reduce the number of people who lose their lives, including cops that are shot and killed and members of the public that ultimately end up on the receiving end of lethal force. And so now that we've taken that conversation, say, OK, now let's, yes, there's going to be things that could go wrong, but let's first talk about what could go right. What if we could bring this number down? What would we have to do? Well, we've got to make the alternatives to a gun more capable. We've got to make them more reliable. And ultimately, we're setting the stage as well. We've talked about drones and robotics.
PATRICK YOES, FOP (28:20.34)
Yeah. Yeah, I know.
RICK SMITH, AXON (28:41.586)
If I want to make a situation, so today if you've got a high-risk warrant, part of what we may be doing is sending police officers through the door into the unknown, into a high-risk environment. And of course, they're human beings, they're surging with fear and adrenaline themselves and they've got lethal weapons to protect themselves against, they don't know what they're going to come up against. That is a recipe for unpredictable things to happen. There's a lot of emotion and fear and deadly weapons.
coming in close contact. I believe in the next decade, one of the biggest things we'll do to save lives on both sides is to say, look, if we have a really high risk situation, we shouldn't have to send our sons and daughters in there. We should send in a drone or a robot. And with that, that gives the police officers time and distance and safety. We're no longer saying, hey, you have to put your life right on the line to go in and deal with this threat. Let's go in and assess it first with a remotely operated system where you're safe.
And look, it's probably gonna make the member of the public safer as well, because the space for things to go wrong when everybody's less, has to be less afraid for their own personal safety means we can be more methodical, take our time. Now, you probably saw when we talked about taser-capable drones last summer, the Twitter sphere kind of lost its mind about all the terrible things that could happen.
But nobody's given me a better answer. It's like, okay, you got a mass shooter, you got a person with a gun in a mall or a school. The way we stop them today is we send in our sons and daughters in law enforcement, putting their own lives at risk and have a gunfight. I believe we could have drones and robots that could be there faster, at much lower risk to everybody involved. And that's where this moonshot conversation tries to bring us back from like the fringe cases of what could go wrong to, we don't have to build a perfect world. We just have to.
give options that are better than the limited options we have today.
PATRICK YOES, FOP (30:40.872)
And what an evolution. From where we were to where we are today and how things are changing so quick. Rick, talk a little bit, and thank you. I love the passion of finding solutions to, you know...
often we just kind of get used to the way things are you're constantly asking the question, how can we improve on it? And I think that makes it makes our communities that makes our jobs a lot safer. Let's look in that window now. You know, you're talking about what you want to accomplish in the next 10 years of moonshot. But my experience is the evolution of technology and law enforcement is at a much greater pace than 10 years. Things things are there, you know, I might have, you know, it's definitely on an escalation
RICK SMITH, AXON (31:21.406)
Yeah. Well, you know, the reason we chose this term moonshot, right, you think back to 1961, when...
PATRICK YOES, FOP (31:27.101)
tell me what you see through that window of policing in 10, 20 years from now.
RICK SMITH, AXON (31:39.222)
President Kennedy stood out at Rice University and said, we're going to put a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth within a decade. That was on the border of crazy in terms of its audacity. It was the greatest human endeavor in history, but it was possible. It was a combination of imagination and technology. There were a lot of smart people who knew it could be possible, but it just required tremendous effort. It was by no means a slam dunk.
As we look at the gun violence problem, look, we're not in a position to solve it society-wide at this point, but we do believe as we dug in and we define what is the biggest impact we believe we could have in 10 years, we believe police public interactions are a place where we could take this trend where, look, deaths are going up a little every year. We have the chance to cut it in half, but we're gonna have to do things differently. And that means we're gonna have to...
opened the minds of both police officers to new tools and tactics, but probably even more importantly opened the public to like, hey, we need to give our police agencies some room to innovate here. If we want different outcomes, you can't just keep doing the same thing and then criticizing. We need room to innovate and experiment and try new things and measure what's going to move the ball in the right direction. So one of the things we did is we partnered with IIR, the Institute for Intergovernmental Research, to create a national database.
on police shootings, officer-involved shootings. Now today, if you want that data, you have to go to the Washington Post. And no offense to the Washington Post, but news outlets, their job is to, they sell controversy. And again, I'm not trying to poke at anybody here, but frankly, you know, the Washington Post is competing with everybody on the internet for eyeballs. And so inherently, if they're the only ones really tracking officer-involved shootings, we're probably gonna get things that tend to be more controversial than maybe
the scientific basis that we could look at to understand the underlying dynamics of what we could do to bring the numbers down. So this is all part of this. This moonshot has kind of focused us not only on the tech piece but how do we get better information and data, and then how do we bring the public along so that if I look 20 years out, I would tell you, I think in 20 years, it's going to be very rare we're sending a police officer through the door into a situation where there's believed to be risk.
RICK SMITH, AXON (34:02.102)
that will be something we handle very differently. And, you know, yes, it's a little weird to think about today because we've all seen the Terminator movies, but look, if it's my house, and for whatever reason, maybe they've got the wrong address, mistakes happen, and they think that there's a violent felon in my house that has to be arrested, please send the robot or the drone into my house, not a bunch of human beings who are naturally...
afraid for their own safety and with legal weapons because they have to have them to protect themselves. So these are the sort of thought experiments we go through. And then the last piece I would tell you is we also understand there are legitimate concerns about how things could be misused. So we can't just go build new robots with weapons on them and throw them out into the wild and see what happens. We also do need to put a lot of thought into what sort of oversight mechanisms should police agencies have in place.
What sort of transparency with the public? How do we address those concerns so that we can bring the public along and not end up in a situation where we get political backlash and then we get locked out of our ability to innovate together?
PATRICK YOES, FOP (35:13.608)
Yeah, as two things here, I'd like to just respond back on first one is the very powers we have as police officers directly related to trust in the community, at transparency piece, that part of having the public understand why these are so very necessary to make our jobs at a community safer is worth every penny that's invested in that portion of it. Otherwise, we were defeating our purpose here. The second one is, I just need to point out, I mean, you're talking about innovative ways to make our jobs and community safer.
Let me just tell you the reality of it. The fraternal law police for years has been keeping records of the amount of law enforcement officers are shot in the line of duty. That data was not collected anywhere by anyone else. We were able to go to Department of Justice say this needs to be done, able to get a grant for it and started collecting this data. And since we started collecting this data, the numbers have been astounding. We're seeing an escalation in violence towards law enforcement. Every year we're setting a record on the amount of officers that are assaulted.
I guess even a more disturbing trend is how many officers ambushed that number is growing existential because of the threats that we have to our profession. And so the work that you do so vitally important to this, because we see this trend going up and the only way we're going to get past this.
is if we find ways to do things in a better, more efficient and safer way for both the officers and the public alike. So work you're doing so. So thank you for what you do.
RICK SMITH, AXON (36:41.795)
Yeah. Well, I got to work. The FOP is doing there as well. Like when I mentioned these two for intergovernmental research, sort of replicating what the Washington Post did, we know they're working with you as well, because you guys are on the leading edge on the other side, which is tracking data about police officers that are shot and killed. Because look, as we looked at this...
If we could cut officer involved shootings, but more cops got shot because they were taking too much risk, that is a terrible outcome. And so we really are trying to focus on both sides of the equation. How do we keep cops safer and how do we give them other options so that we can reduce the frequency that they have to escalate to lethal force?
PATRICK YOES, FOP (37:22.004)
Yeah, absolutely. Rick, thank you for all that you do. I'll give you a chance to wrap this up give you a chance to give some parting thoughts on where we are today and in technology and
RICK SMITH, AXON (37:35.862)
Well, the first thing I would say is I continue to be just incredibly impressed by the men and women who go into police work. I don't know that I can do the job. I do ride-alongs. We have our new employees do ride-alongs. We have our board members do ride-alongs. And it is just shocking when you realize how selfless this job is for a police officer to strap on body armor, get into a car and go out into a community, knowing they're going to deal in the most dangerous places.
with the people that the rest of us cross the street to avoid, and yet you have to go and deal with them when they're in an infinite number of situations that could be incredibly dangerous. And the quality of people who go into this profession just blows my mind. It is definitely a mission-driven area that attracts people who are not in it. You're clearly for the money or for the fame, and who are willing to take.
all of the negative risks that come with this in order to create a society that can thrive and prosper and send our kids to school. And so I've got the easiest job in the world by comparison. I get to work in a lab and meet with these incredible officers. And then, you know, I get to be the Q to your James Bond or maybe the Alfred to your Batman where we get to go work on the tech. But then ultimately, you know, it's the men and women of law enforcement. We have to go out, climb into the rocket ship and take the risk.
of going out into a dangerous world and putting this stuff to use.
PATRICK YOES, FOP (39:05.552)
Yeah, some 800,000 law enforcement officers every day to make a conscious decision or stand at line between order and chaos, and do so recognizing that it could cost them their own lives that are on their own well being, you know, nobody signed up for this profession, because they wanted to experience the worst in humanity. No one signed up for this job because they wanted the, you know, to, to live with the things that run through their mind at night from things that they've seen. Nobody signed up for this for long hours and, and low pay and all of this, it truly is a servant heart. So I thank you for recognizing that. And I thank you for all that you do to try and make our jobs safer in our community safer. Rick, thank you. Thank you. Keep that passion to be part of the team.
PATRICK YOES, FOP (39:52.712)
Now, keep that passion. Keep that passion because I love talking to you talking about how we take problems. And I think a lot of people focus on problems, they don't focus as much on solutions. And that's, that's exactly what you're doing. Keep up the great work. Thank you for tuning into the Blueview podcast. Well, we talk about the issues that are so vitally important to the men and women who suit up and show up every single day in communities across this country.