How machine learning could reduce police incidents of excessive force – MyNorthwest.com

Posted: June 20, 2020 at 4:47 pm


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Protesters and police in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. (Getty Images)

When incidents of police brutality occur, typically departments enact police reforms and fire bad cops, but machine learning could potentially predict when a police officer may go over the line.

Rayid Ghani is a professor at Carnegie Mellon and joined Seattles Morning News to discuss using machine learning in police reform. Hes working on tech that could predict not only which cops might not be suited to be cops, but which cops might be best for a particular call.

AI and technology and machine learning, and all these buzzwords, theyre not able to to fix racism or bad policing, they are a small but important tool that we can use to help, Ghani said. I was looking at the systems called early intervention systems that a lot of large police departments have. Theyre supposed to raise alerts, raise flags when a police officer is at risk of doing something that they shouldnt be doing, like excessive use of force.

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What we found when looking at data from several police departments is that these existing systems were mostly ineffective, he added. If theyve done three things in the last three months that raised the flag, well thats great. But at the same time, its not an early intervention. Its a late intervention.

So they built a system that works to potentially identify high risk officers before an incident happens, but how exactly do you predict how somebody is going to behave?

We build a predictive system that would identify high risk officers We took everything we know about a police officer from their HR data, from their dispatch history, from who they arrested , their internal affairs, the complaints that are coming against them, the investigations that have happened, Ghani said.

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What we found were some of the obvious predictors were what you think is their historical behavior. But some of the other non-obvious ones were things like repeated dispatches to suicide attempts or repeated dispatches to domestic abuse cases, especially involving kids. Those types of dispatches put officers at high risk for the near future.

While this might suggest that officers who regularly dealt with traumatic dispatches might be the ones who are higher risk, the data doesnt explain why, it just identifies possibilities.

It doesnt necessarily allow us to figure out the why, it allows us to narrow down which officers are high risk, Ghani said. Lets say a call comes in to dispatch and the nearest officer is two minutes away, but is high risk of one of these types of incidents. The next nearest officer is maybe four minutes away and is not high risk. If this dispatch is not time critical for the two minutes extra it would take, could you dispatch the second officer?

So if an officer has been sent to a multiple child abuse cases in a row, it makes more sense to assign somebody else the next time.

Thats right, Ghani said. Thats what that were finding is they become high risk It looks like its a stress indicator or a trauma indicator, and they might need a cool-off period, they might need counseling.

But in this case, the useful thing to think about also is that they havent done anything yet, he added. This is preventative, this is proactive. And so the intervention is not punitive. You dont fire them. You give them the tools that they need.

Listen to Seattles Morning News weekday mornings from 5 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to thepodcast here.

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How machine learning could reduce police incidents of excessive force - MyNorthwest.com

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June 20th, 2020 at 4:47 pm

Posted in Machine Learning