Feb 1, 2023 - News

Chicago company Truleo uses AI to scan police bodycam footage

Illustration of a star-shaped spotlight on a police hat.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

A new AI program from Chicago company Truleo is being used by several U.S. police departments to scan bodycam footage for both good and bad officer encounters, Axios' Jennifer A. Kingson reports.

Why it matters: The platform, which analyzes audio recordings from officers' body cameras, is designed to identify behavior problems as well as potentially troubling patterns within a department.

  • Some departments that use the technology, like Aurora, Colorado, say they're able to intervene and prevent bad conduct earlier on. In California, Alameda police reported a drop in use of force after adopting Truleo.
  • This comes as policymakers are searching for fresh police accountability tools in light of Tyre Nichols' death in Memphis.

The intrigue: Despite the technology's local roots, Chicago isn't one of its adopters, and police officials won't say why.

  • Truleo CEO Anthony Tassone told Axios he'd engaged in "super promising" talks with CPD reform chief Robert Boik about Chicago using the technology, but that ended when the reformer was suddenly fired last summer.
  • "We don't have a champion there now," Tassone said.
  • CPD officials didn't respond to multiple calls and emails from Axios asking whether they have plans to use Truleo or any program that routinely analyzes bodycam data.

Between the lines: Most bodycam footage lies untouched unless there's a civilian complaint or obvious problem. "The hardware itself doesn't improve policing," Tassone said. "You've got to analyze the data.

"Zoom in: CPD has a body camera auditing policy in place, but reports have revealed flaws in how it's carried out, CBS reported in an investigation last year.

What they're saying: According to Truleo, less than .01% of bodycam footage is typically examined.

  • Tassone suggested that the platform would be beneficial in Chicago because a large share of officers "have three years or less on the job."
  • "So they're young guys who don't have a lot of supervision."

Reality check: With or without AI analysis, bodycam footage can help reduce police violence only if officers keep their cameras rolling, and if chiefs, sergeants and other leaders immediately address problematic behavior.

Go deeper on how the technology works and who's using it


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