Use of AI in LE: Community education and transparency

It is important agencies get ahead of the game by bringing their community into policy-making discussions before AI technology is deployed

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By Ron LaPedis

The use of AI in law enforcement offers potentially huge benefits, but with public misconceptions rife about AI, it is important agencies get ahead of the game by bringing their community into policy-making discussions before AI technology is deployed. This enables law enforcement to direct the dialogue toward the ways in which AI improves officer efficiency and helps to solve crimes.

The first step in successfully implementing the technology at your agency is educating the public about what AI actually is and is not.

Start with appointed and elected officials and community leaders to see what AI applications they believe will be acceptable to the wider community. Based on the media and popular culture, the public mistakenly believes AI begins and ends with facial recognition, not understanding the breadth of applications that are available such as “mining” CAD system data for hot spots, working to link individuals to gang activity or determining if the same firearm is showing up at multiple crime scenes.

Once you introduce the potential applications behind the technology, you should create scenarios to engage a wider range of elected officials and citizens. It is important to keep everyone informed and ensure that all policies are transparent to facilitate community acceptance.

Because privacy is in the news all the time, members of the public may be concerned about how their information is being used, particularly if license plate readers and bodycam and video surveillance footage are being used – even without facial recognition.

It is imperative to make available the specific scenarios you envision for your program, including any draft policies and procedures. As your program gets more flesh on its bones, it might be a good idea to hold a town hall meeting to give members of the public an opportunity to see mockups of the reports you intend to generate.

When you get to the point of bringing vendors in for demos, let members of the public see the system and understand how it operates, the purpose it serves and the scenarios for which the system will be used.

Conducting demonstrations can give the public a sense of appreciation for the technology involved, as well as an understanding as to how the equipment can be used to enhance community safety while preserving citizens’ privacy. It’s also a good opportunity to answer questions and address concerns.

It is also important to meet with members of the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to provide your standard operating procedures for review and get member feedback on any suggested changes. While the ACLU will not endorse your policies and procedures, their involvement usually removes the likelihood that the organization will oppose your program, and thus help community acceptance.

About the author

Ron LaPedis has been a business continuity and security professional for over 25 years and frequently writes and speaks on business continuity, cybersecurity, physical security and public safety topics.

Ron is a Master Business Continuity Professional (MBCP), a Fellow of the Business Continuity Institute (AFBCI), a Distinguished Fellow of the Ponemon Institute and a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). 

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