Fairfax County police to use AI technology to evaluate body camera footage

The Fairfax County Police Department is working with a company to automatically review body-worn camera footage (via FCPD)

The Fairfax County Police Department will utilize automated technology to analyze body-worn camera footage in real time.

Seeking to improve its training and interactions with the public, the FCPD is the first jurisdiction in Virginia to sign on with Truleo, the Chicago-based technology company announced yesterday (Tuesday).

According to a press release, the technology uses artificial intelligence to process body camera footage, automatically detecting events like use of force, pursuits and frisks. The technology also screens for “professional and unprofessional” language by officers “so supervisors can then praise or review officers’ conduct.” 

“We are proud to begin our work with the Fairfax County Police Department and Chief Kevin Davis,” Truleo co-founder and CEO Anthony Tassone said. “Through our work with various law enforcement agencies across the country, we’ve seen how implementing body-worn analytics helps to increase public trust and ensures that police officers meet not just law enforcement standards but also the expectations of the communities they serve.”

Launched in 2021, Truleo uses technology that Tassone and co-founder Tejas Shastry originally developed on Wall Street in 2013 “to analyze employee phone calls and text conversations,” according to the company’s website.

Since launching, the company has partnered with the FBI’s National Academy Associates program and numerous local police agencies, starting with the Alameda police in California in 2022. Other partners include the New York City Police Department and the Paterson Police Department in New Jersey, but police in Seattle discontinued their program in February 2023 after a police union leader was recorded laughing about the victim of a fatal police shooting.

Truleo’s platform generates transcripts of audio recordings captured by body cameras, using natural language processing to detect words or phrases that may signal a notable interaction. A searchable report is then sent to the officer’s supervisor.

Truleo asserts that its technology can reduce workloads for law enforcement agencies, which otherwise analyze less than 1% of body camera footage due to limited resources. However, some civil rights advocates and researchers have raised concerns about privacy and the potential for the technology to be misused.

Studies have found that AI-powered speech recognition tools are less accurate at interpreting Black voices and people speaking a language other than English, since they’re often trained on biased data.

In Fairfax County, police supervisors can’t actively review footage from body-worn cameras due to the department’s auditing process.

At a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors safety and security committee meeting yesterday (Tuesday), Police Chief Kevin Davis said the combined power of the FCPD’s technological commitments will provide greater transparency on community sentiment and officer performance.

In response to Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik’s concerns about privacy, Davis emphasized that Truleo won’t activate unless the body-worn cameras are turned on. 

“The Truleo is only on when the body worn camera is activated,” Davis said. “When the body camera is not on, Truleo will not be on.”

The FCPD already uses My90, a community engagement tool that uses a post-incident survey to complainants requesting police help. It also has an automated speed enforcement helicopter and drones, per Davis’s presentation.

The department is also expanding its use of automatic license plate readers, which were first tested in November 2022. Davis said the program has quickly become a model for the region, allowing the FCPD to promote regional collaboration and provide officers with more information.

In 2023, the department recovered 134 vehicles and arrested 222 individuals with the help of license plate reader alerts. The arrests have led to 480 felony charges and 244 charges classified as misdemeanors. The FCPD was also able to find 19 missing persons.

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