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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Protecting the Future: The Impact of AI on Federal Law Enforcement

Artificial intelligence is no longer a futuristic concept but a tangible reality already revolutionizing industries. Federal law enforcement is no exception. While some may fear or doubt technology is ready to replace human judgment, the true power of AI lies in its ability to augment decision-making.

Federal law enforcement is a complex and multifaceted field where getting accurate information fast enough to make the right decision is critical. It is ripe for the integration of next-generation data processing. However, AI adoption must be done in a thoughtful and responsible manner to ensure that it is used in a way that is fair, transparent, and respects the privacy and rights of all individuals.

Predictive policing

Law enforcement agencies generate vast amounts of data from various sources on a daily basis, which must be processed and analyzed. Advanced AI algorithms have the power to meticulously comb through that information, unveiling intricate connections and cultivating novel leads for investigations. This complicated task, which can be overwhelming and time-consuming for human investigators given the sheer volume of information, is efficiently handled by AI. For instance, image recognition technology enables accurate face and license plate matching against extensive databases, significantly facilitating suspect identification and expediting case advancement. Similarly, the increasing use of AI in analyzing footage from body cameras, closed-circuit television systems, and drones can significantly enhance officers’ situational awareness, enabling them to respond promptly to situations as they unfold.

By analyzing historical data and assessing factors such as previous crime rates and environmental conditions, AI algorithms can detect patterns, predict future crime hotspots, and identify areas of higher risk so law enforcement agencies can proactively allocate resources to prevent and respond to crimes more effectively.

Intelligent Surveillance

One of the most immediate impacts that AI will have on law enforcement is in transcription and translation. Although human intervention is still necessary for quality control, technology can instantly process recorded conversations to extract insights and evidence to support investigations.

As AI matures, it could be applied to Title III surveillance and interception of wire, oral, and electronic communications – provided that legal frameworks are in place to allow it. Careful consideration must be given to the legal and ethical implications before AI can be integrated into law enforcement for electronic surveillance purposes. A shared understanding of the benefits and limitations of the technology will be necessary to build cultural acceptance of AI-assisted evidence among prosecutors and investigators who may be accustomed to traditional methods of investigation through human observation and interpretation.

Border security

The potential of AI in aiding the various law enforcement agencies involved in protecting U.S. borders is significant and cannot be overstated. The scope of border security extends beyond customs checkpoints and border lines. Remote processing locations, safe pathway offices in embassies, customs, and immigration courts are all crucial touchpoints that require proper resources to ensure the safe, orderly, and lawful movement of people and goods. AI algorithms can analyze staffing levels, workload, and performance metrics to identify areas where additional support may be needed, enabling law enforcement agencies to optimize resource allocation and workforce management.

Verifying the identities of non-citizens attempting to cross U.S. borders can be a complex and time-consuming task due to the variety of documents that require authentication. With AI, point-of-contact communications can become almost instant–expediting the processing of newly arrived individuals and limiting the country’s security risk exposure. AI-powered facial recognition technology can instantly compare the photo on a passport or visa with a live image of the person presenting the document to determine whether it is genuine and whether the person presenting it is the rightful owner. AI can verify the information against government databases to detect false documents or discrepancies. AI algorithms can analyze features such as language syntax and grammar, watermarks, holograms, and microtext to confirm the document is legitimate.

Training and retention

As the law enforcement workforce ages, there is a growing need to preserve institutional knowledge and train new agents and officers to close the gaps left by retiring personnel. AI can fill that need. Virtual simulations can provide effective training to expedite the development of decision-making skills in complex scenarios. Technology can help ensure that invaluable experience, such as the ability to spot narcotics based on certain sensor readings, does not retire with individual agents.

Concerns about AI accuracy, fairness, and potential biases in the information used to train algorithms can be addressed by continually training and testing them on large and diverse data sets and implementing quality control measures to detect and correct errors. To develop reliable and trustworthy AI-powered tools, law enforcement agencies need an implementation partner who understands how decisions are made and the consequences that follow. Relying on a tech company that just understands AI is not enough. A thorough understanding of the mission, unique challenges, and processes is a must in building a transparent, explainable, and trustworthy AI.

AI is set to play a vital role in protecting the future. It can help federal law enforcement agencies rapidly surface relevant information and operate more efficiently. However, bringing in subject matter expertise at every step of the process is necessary to ensure the accuracy and validity of the insights generated. AI is only as good as its validation and is not ready to be used for finished intelligence without proper supervision. Used in tandem with human experts, AI can provide unparalleled analytical power to support decision-making and operational excellence of our country’s law enforcement, and ultimately, contribute to creating a safer and more secure nation.

author avatar
Charles O'Brien
Charles O'Brien, Vice President for Civil Solutions at SOSi, leads international teams providing language and cultural support to border patrol agents, interpretation and translation services in immigration courts, and technology and logistics support to federal law enforcement agencies. His expertise gives him an intimate understanding of the unique missions of federal law enforcement agencies, the challenges they face, and the opportunities that technology presents.
Charles O'Brien
Charles O'Brien
Charles O'Brien, Vice President for Civil Solutions at SOSi, leads international teams providing language and cultural support to border patrol agents, interpretation and translation services in immigration courts, and technology and logistics support to federal law enforcement agencies. His expertise gives him an intimate understanding of the unique missions of federal law enforcement agencies, the challenges they face, and the opportunities that technology presents.

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