By Liam Galin
Sir Robert Mark, the great reformer and London Metropolitan Police Commissioner from 1972-1977, was once quoted saying, “Our effectiveness [as police] depends greatly on the extent to which we can achieve the trust of the courts, the press, and the public.”* While the quote is not new, the truth remains the same: policing productively is directly tied to public trust, and trust can only be achieved through transparency. While integrating emerging technology with traditional policing poses numerous challenges, a holistic approach can build or strengthen the bridge of trust between law enforcement and their communities. Building confidence in the ability of police to address community needs, ultimately empowers optimal policing productivity through transparency and intelligent decision-making.
One way law enforcement can build community confidence is by demonstrating policing efficiency through investigating and closing cases faster and streamlining real-time response through better situational awareness. Video Content Analytics (VCA) technology is one way law enforcement increase speed, efficiency, and insights. The AI-powered technology enables them to search and filter through video evidence more efficiently to more accurately and immediately identify people and objects of interest. This reduces the need for investigators to manually video review and helps accelerate the task of video review, freeing up personnel to focus their attentions on the community and meeting its needs effectively.
Trusting that law enforcement can and will respond rapidly to an emergency is a huge factor in community confidence in the police force. By leveraging video analytics to achieve a faster time-to-target, not only can police easily detect, identify, and track known suspects in digital data, but – even more importantly – when there is an unknown suspect or lack of supporting evidence, investigators can uncover details quickly by reviewing data that has been structured by AI-driven video analytics technology. While law enforcement officers occupy a position of power within their communities, they are often not empowered to do their job efficiently; this dissonance is what erodes community trust. But, adopting technology solutions, like video analytics, can help resolve this discord by properly enabling officers with the tools they need to serve and protect productively.
A hallmark of policing is the ability to stay agile by quickly responding to complex situational and environmental changes. Video content analytics enables officers to trigger real-time alerts to increase situational awareness and deliver critical, time-sensitive intelligence. For instance, finding vehicles on interest is an important part of policing, and video analytics provides law enforcement with the ability to recognize vehicles of interest using capabilities such as “in the wild” license plate recognition (LPR), making license plates searchable and identifiable in surveillance video. Officers can create LPR watchlists using full or partial plate numbers and set real-time rule-based alerts for detected license plates included or excluded from configured watchlists, as well as descriptions of vehicles of interest, such as car color.
Another example, while patrolling officers are unable to have eyes on every area of a city, they can configure rule-based alerts that will immediately notify when someone is loitering in sensitive spaces. Upon receiving the notification, officers can assess the situation, dispatch responders to the scene to apprehend the offender and ultimately deter further crime with their responsive approach. By helping officers effectively respond to complex changes, they can build a consistent track record, reinforcing the message that the police are reliable even in the most difficult circumstances.
Proactive and preventative law enforcement is also vital to police efficiency and community trust.
However, the lack of comprehensive and reliable data available to proactively address community issues is problematic and keeps law enforcement in a perpetual “behind the eight ball” holding pattern. Video analytics can effectively break this pattern by increasing situational awareness and empowering police to proactively address conditions that are contributing to public safety problems. For instance, leverage existing video with video analytics, law enforcement agencies can derive actionable and quantifiable insights about an environment to gain deeper understanding of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, loitering, and other behaviors. Law enforcement can then collaborate with other municipal agencies to implement strategic public safety planning and solutions to reducing crime and increase safety, rather than primarily responding to incidents after they occur. Additionally, the ability to collect data through video analytics provides insight about patterns within a community. This awareness of trends can help law enforcement agencies uncover specific and systemic trends and support the proactive responses and strategies needed address them, ultimately building trust in both the short and long term. When citizens feel safe in their environment and see that their law enforcement is proactively working for the good of their community, collaboration and trust is increased which ultimately results in even higher productivity and efficiency of policing efforts.
* Source: Andrew Goldsmith, Police Reform and the Problem of Trust, Theoretical Criminology, 2005
About the author: Liam Galin is the CEO of BriefCam