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Axon CEO: Free body cameras for all US police is ultimately 'a network play'

Axon CEO Rick Smith said that his company's name change from Taser International and its initiative to offer free body cameras for every U.S. law enforcement officer reflect a larger shift toward creating a "connected network."

"There's something like a 15 to 1 return on investment for us by letting customers try this because ultimately, this is a network play," Smith told "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer on Wednesday.

Along with the cameras, every police department in the United States will be offer supplementary hardware and software that allows them to store unlimited data from the cameras for free for a year.

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"We want to take all the risk off the table," Smith said, which he hopes will encourage police departments to take the offer. Since Axon announced the deal today, one department in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina has already signed on.

Smith's vision is that by eliminating cost-related risk, the offer will bolster Axon's growing network, making the company more valuable once the trials run out.

"Skype or Facebook is not that valuable if you're on it alone. As soon as you get a community on there, it's valuable. We're building a community, this is just the enabler," Smith said.

The CEO added that the name change from Taser to Axon supports the network-oriented shift.

"When I say 'Taser,' you immediately think about stun guns, electrical weapons. We're something bigger now. We still do taser, of course, but Axon is … all about this connected network," he said.

Functionally, the introduction of body cameras into policing is aimed at cutting the time it takes officers to write police reports. Smith said that filming incidents in high-definition video can also serve as a way of protecting officers that fall under pressure for using their weapons.

"Every officer that carries a gun should have a camera," Smith said. "If you have to use lethal force, you want to be able to show the world why you did it, and there's still big demand for that."

And despite a large up-front cost for the promotion, Smith is focused on the benefits it will provide both to his company and the police community.

"It's hard being a cop, and what they find when they've got a camera is it protects them from all the crazy allegations," the CEO said.

Axon will begin trading at the Nasdaq under its new ticker, AAXN, at market open on Thursday, April 6.

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