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Can ChatGPT help law enforcement?

Here’s what to know about this powerful chatbot that uses deep learning to produce humanlike text

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In November 2022, the artificial intelligence lab OpenAI released ChatGPT, a powerful autoregressive language model chatbot that uses deep learning to produce humanlike text.

The system sounds nerdy and complicated, but it is quite simple to use and can potentially revolutionize how police departments operate.

How do I know this? Because ChatGPT told me so.

Police agencies are experiencing shortages of personnel. To make matters worse, smarter and more technically sound criminals are organizing together, making them harder to catch. And many nongovernmental organizations are pressuring agencies to help solve complicated social problems like homelessness and mental health. This is where AI technology can help.

AI and deep learning programs may seem new, but they are used in various functions like RMS, video analysis tools and facial recognition. AI is becoming more accepted and normalized in society, cheaper to manage and operate, and significantly smarter than just a few years ago.

Disclaimer: ChatGPT is an open-source language model that requires technical experience to deploy and use effectively. The system is also still learning and should not be used as an exclusive problem-solving tool. People, think tanks, nonbiased academic research and common sense should still be used as primary problem-solving tools, and AI tools like ChatGPT should not be a cure-all for law enforcement issues. Be aware that OpenAI holds information temporarily on its servers so the system can learn, so it should not be used for police-sensitive data. It should only be used as an aid to investigation.

I’ve used ChatGPT for academics since it was released to the public, so I decided to ask ChatGPT what it could do to help police agencies. It gave me the following recommendations.

Process large amounts of data

ChatGPT can process large amounts of data “quickly and efficiently.” This feature is especially beneficial for command staff and analysts. ChatGPT can analyze both numbers and word data sets and produce written summaries of the data. Chat GPT can also find issues in code scripts and is proficient in Python and Java.

I have used ChatGPT to fix coding scripts and come up with specific codes. Being able to code quickly is important for operating cell phone or computer extraction tools.

Transcribe and analyze audio and video recordings

I personally have used this feature to transcribe audio from both videos and audio recordings. ChatGPT does an excellent job filtering out background noise and splitting audio transcriptions of multiple people. Even more impressive is its ability to translate foreign languages. If an officer records an interaction and does not understand what everyone is saying, the officer can later upload the audio and transcribe it into the language of their choice.

Chat GPT’s video analyzing tools are still being developed, but there is a potential for the system to use the biometrics of one person, then use those biometrics to find that same person in another video source. It is only a matter of time before that option will be available.

Advanced pattern recognition

ChatGPT can find patterns and connections in data. This feature is especially exciting for analysts and financial investigators. “If an officer is looking for a suspect in a series of crimes, ChatGPT can analyze data from each crime scene and look for similarities in the way the crimes were committed,” the system reports. Analysts can extract data from nearly any source, put it into ChatGPT and ask ChatGPT to solve or find what they are looking for.

The advanced pattern recognition feature can also use historical data to predict future crimes. I personally have not used this feature for police application, but I did upload a few months’ worth of my personal credit card data, and it was able to determine that I pay bills the same week each month and, more important, my wife likes to go shopping on Tuesdays when I go back to work.

Even though these examples are still under research and development, AI technology and deep learning tools like ChatGPT can prove beneficial for police agencies. Police agencies shouldn’t shy away from AI but learn to use it responsibly and ethically. Even ChatGPT agrees and recognizes the ethical consequences of AI and policing by writing, “ChatGPT should be used in compliance with relevant laws and regulations and … in accordance with ethical guidelines. It should be used as an aid and not as a replacement for human judgment.”

I am a big supporter of AI in police technology. I believe it can help police agencies solve some of our more complex problems, including socioeconomic and personnel allocation issues. AI technology is here to stay, and with the release of ChatGPT and the possible release of Google’s LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications), AI chatbots will only get smarter.

Joshua Lee is an active-duty police sergeant for a municipal police department in Arizona. Before being promoted, Joshua served five years as a patrol officer and six years as a detective with the Organized Crime Section investigating civil asset forfeiture, white-collar financial crime, and cryptocurrency crimes.

Joshua is a money laundering investigations expert witness and consultant for banks, financial institutions, and accountants. He is also an artificial intelligence for government applications advisor and researcher.

Joshua holds a BA in Justice Studies, an MA in Legal Studies, and an MA in Professional Writing. He has earned some of law enforcement’s top certifications, including the ACFE’s Certified Fraud Examiners (CFE), ACAMS Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) and the IAFC’s Certified Cyber Crimes Investigator (CCCI).

Joshua is an adjunct professor at a large national university, and a smaller regional college teaching law, criminal justice, government, technology, writing and English courses.