Can Artificial Intelligence Help Reduce Police Brutality?
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Can Artificial Intelligence Help Reduce Police Brutality?

An AI platform created to review and analyze hours of body cam footage is already showing promise

The prevalence of artificial intelligence is growing by the day. ChatGPT is on the tip of countless tongues and as we’ve previously written about, some of the concepts from Black Mirror are starting to feel eerily prescient. AI can be weird and scary, but its powers can be used for good as well. Case in point: Police departments are using an AI platform that sifts through and analyzes countless hours of officers' body camera footage for training purposes.

Truleo, founded in 2021, states its mission is to “improve trust in the police with body camera analytics.” The startup’s technology has the ability to scan and process thousands of hours of body cam footage for audio cues that may detect a “risk,” such as aggressive or abusive language. Ideally, Truleo would give police departments data on how officers interact with citizens and allow them to pinpoint exactly how they need to train them.

The technology is not yet widespread, but in use at a handful of departments around the U.S. In California, the Alameda, Atwater, and Vallejo police departments are customers; some departments in Florida, Alabama, and Pennsylvania use the platform as well. Truleo describes the Seattle Police Department as an “anchor customer.” A wide breadth of data isn’t available, but so far, findings have been pretty eye-opening.

In a case study, the company says the police department in Alameda saw a 36 percent reduction in the use of force by officers after the software was implemented. It also reported a 30 percent “decrease in unprofessional officer language.” Other findings include a 12 percent “decrease in civilian non-compliance” and a 17 percent increase in “officer explanations.” According to Truleo, this software markedly improves police interactions.

The Seattle Police Department told GeekWire the police force “look[s] forward to the possible insights Truleo may provide in the future, and continue[s] to be committed to data- and evidence-based policing.” The representative declined to answer questions about how the department uses Trueleo.

The likely reason there’s been an improvement in police interactions is because the cops know they’re being watched. As Geekwire pointed out, Truelo CEO Anthony Tassone invoked Memphis PD’s murder of Tyre Nichols in a LinkedIn post and said the department “reviews less than 1 percent of their body camera videos because there is simply too much data for humans to watch.”

Another alarming reality about Truleo is that this software, as it is AI, may come with inherent flaws and biases. It might not be able to understand what a non-native English person is saying. But, perhaps most concerning, body cams surveil everyone an officer comes into contact with. Do we trust that with the ability to comb through every minute of what the body cameras see and hear police will use that information purely for good?

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