A Rochester Institute of Technology professor is teaming up with the Rochester Police Department to use statistical machine learning to analyze body-worn camera footage and help improve police training.
Professor Ernest Fokoue from RIT’s School of Mathematical Sciences received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice and RPD to conduct the study over the next three years.
RPD began implementing its body-worn camera initiative in 2016 to improve police-community relations and currently has roughly 500 body-worn cameras assigned to patrol personnel.
Fokoue said using artificial intelligence to sort through the available data is a good way to search for model behavior and could ultimately help the department instill trust in the public.
“The hope is that this is as objective as it gets,” Fokoue said. “The camera doesn’t decide what was happening at the scene, so the idea is to analyze what it picks up in an objective way. We hope to see patterns emerging through natural-language processing and to share the findings with other police departments around the country.”
The project has several specific goals, including producing publishable datasets built from a model scanning RPD body-worn camera footage; providing video examples for the RPD to analyze for defensive and de-escalation tactics and creating algorithms to detect biased behavior by RPD officers and identify effective de-escalation tactics used by RPD officers.
“The current grant-funded project will help RPD improve upon our already successful body-worn camera program by using our vast amount of footage for training, compliance and increasing our transparency to the public,” said Adrian Martin, a data analyst for RPD.
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