What AI Could Do for Law Enforcement Communications

By James Careless

With its ability to interact with human beings and provide them with answers, artificial
intelligence (AI) has a real place in law enforcement (LE) communications — and it can’t come
into service soon enough!

That’s the assessment of Michael A. Barnbeck. He is Chair of the Public Safety Broadband
Technical Association and retired law enforcement with 25 year veteran with the Las Vegas
Metropolitan Police Department. Here are some of his ideas for making AI assist humans in

Cover 311 Calls

From Barnbeck’s perspective, AI could make human-managed police comms more effective,
efficient, and less taxing by taking over the drudge work for them. A case in point: “If you had a
non-emergency call coming in via 311 for an agency and you had an AI take the call, you then
could free up dispatchers to be handling more 911 calls,” he said. “A non-emergency call could
be screened by AI to confirm that it’s a non-emergency call or reroute it to 911 by asking the
caller some simple questions first.”

Handle the Butt Dials

‘Butt dials’ — people accidentally calling phone numbers when they sit on phones in their back
pockets — are just of the nearly 30% of calls made to 911 that are interrupted by hang-ups. For
public safety reasons, dispatch centers have to call these numbers back to determine whether
the call was a legitimate plea for assistance, or an accident.

These days, call centers are ‘reverse texting’ calls to follow them up as quickly as possible, in
order to save humans for connected 911 calls. “This would be a great use for AI to take over,
with its ability to send and monitor multiple texts at a time,” said Barnbeck. “With its ability to
analyze human text messages, an AI-enabled messaging system could determine which calls
were accidental and can be closed out, and which ones need human intervention.”
Write Reports

At its heart, AI is just a super-fast, super-capable processing system able to sift through and
organize vast amounts of data in line with preset categories to produce detailed reports. This
makes AI ideally suited to take over many of the paperwork now assigned to humans. This
doesn’t just include daily 911 call reports; anything written by human officers that uses
categories and specific assigned terms/codes can be handled by AI. This includes simple crime
reports for petty larceny, vandalism, and other nonviolent crimes.

Better yet, since AIs don’t get bored, distracted, or tired, the reports they produce are uniformly
accurate and complete. Meanwhile, the humans who used to do this drudge work can now have
more engaging and vital work assigned to them.

“Producing 911 phone reports using AI would be no different than the AI-handled trouble tickets
I file with my home security company,” Barnbeck said. “The AI asks me questions over the
phone, and then uses my answers to get me the help I need. I’ve had great success using that
AI system, and I could see it being a success in public safety.”

AI can also step up in preparing large reports that require statistical analysis, since this is what
this software was designed to do. “For instance, AI’s access to data plus its writing abilities
mean that it can write crime trends reports that are accurate and clear to read,” said Barnbeck.
“It can also be useful in dynamic situations, where officers on the scene need relevant
summaries of past related incident reports fast.”

AI Opt-Out

There is one area where Michael Barnbeck sees potential issues with AI, and that is in terms of
members of the public who don’t want to ‘talk to a machine’, No problem: To address these
people head-on, “all a department has to do is include a program feature on their AI phone
lines, allowing callers to push a button and speak to a human instead,” he said
A Slow Adoption Rate?

Michael Barnbeck sees a real role for AI in making police communications better for officers and
the public alike. That being said, “I don’t see public safety grabbing onto it quite yet,” he
observed. “I think there’ll be a couple of agencies that have always been ahead of the game
with technology that are not afraid to take the first steps. Once they’ve shown how useful AI can
be for law enforcement, other agencies will follow.”


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