“Good morning Officer Jones, I am Mary, a citizen ride-along with you today.” “Good morning Mary, it’s a pleasure to work with you. Please let me know what I can do to better serve our community throughout the day...” No, Officer Jones will not have “Mary” or any other citizen riding with him, at least not in person. In fact, this conversation did not take place face to face in the briefing room. It occurred via an ear piece (or optional implant) acti- vated behind Officer Jones’ ear as he initi- ated his Bluetooth-enabled smart watch to begin his shift. Mary is not even a real person; rather, she is a voice created with artificial intelligence (AI) to interact with the officer. This concept, known as the “Virtual Partner” is an artificially intel- ligent augmented device, and may be the solution for society’s need for police oversight. W ith AI, the Virtual Partner is there to consult or advise, and is available to members of a community oversight com- mittee to interact with officers for real-time, discreet guidance in any police encounter. The Virtual Partner facilitates transpar- ency and community oversight, which can create and maintain trust between the police and those they serve, transforming any officer into a trusted public servant. What may now seem like an unwanted intrusion into an officer’s shift could one day soon become the norm. BUILDING TRUST AND NURTURING LEGITIMACY Police officers depend on the approval and trust of the public to effectively keep their communities safe. Building trust and nurturing legitimacy on both sides of the police-community divide is a foundational principle underlying the nature of rela- tions between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve (President’s Task Force, 2015). The relationships between police and the people they serve is a delicate balance; tension with police and certain segments of society, though have existed throughout history. James B. Comey, former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, shared his thoughts on the relationship between law enforcement and the communities we

serve at Georgetown University on February 12, 2015. Comey in- dicated, “Like a lot of things in life, that relationship is complicat- ed. Relationships often are.” Comey further related that there is a disconnect between police and the citizens they serve (Comey, 2015). Recent incidents involving police use of force have caused community members across the country to question the legiti- macy of the police and relationships have become stressed. Demonstrations, protests, and riots have taken place over perceptions of police misconduct and excessive use of force. Racial inequality has been claimed throughout the nation, with high-profile incidents depicting bias toward African Americans. One such case garnering national attention was the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. As reported in the New York Times, “For many here and across the country, Mr. Brown’s killing laid bare a myriad of issues of racial inequality. When the St. Louis County prosecutor announced that a grand jury had not indicted Officer (Darren) Wilson, many saw it as another injustice for blacks” (Healy, 2014). In other in- cidents, police have been categorized as biased or racist in their handling of situations. The death of George Floyd in police custody on May 25, 2020, captured via a cellphone video and shared on social media by a bystander, sparked nationwide protests for racial justice. An independent autopsy ordered by George Floyd's family found his death was a "homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain." Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, identified as the officer who put his knee to Floyd's neck, was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Floyd was heard saying "I can't breathe," while the officer had him pinned for nearly nine minutes, according to the criminal complaint (Pereira, 2020). The New York Times also noted that, “Although officers employ force in less than two percent of all police-civilian interactions, the use of police force is disproportionately high for African Americans —more than three times greater than for whites, citing information compiled by the Center for Policing Equity frommore than 19,000 use-of-force incidents by police officers representing 11 large and midsize cities and one large urban county from 2010 to 2015 (Williams, 2016). PERCEPTION OF BIAS Public scrutiny and demands for transparency and over- sight of police practices has evolved to a point where many of- ficers do not feel supported by the communities they are sworn to protect. Police bias is constantly portrayed as a problem in en- counters which has led to strained police-community relations. Research conducted by Gordon Moskowitz, Professor and Chair of the Psychology Department at Lehigh University, indicates that all people are inherently biased. This is not to say people willfully are bad. They are willful, and they are biased. They are biased in the sense that they are making sense of a complex world through the lens of their values and the goals they choose to pursue (Moskowitz). This creates a challenge for law enforce- ment when officers act, or are perceived to act, on their precon- ceived ideas and assumptions. If humans are biased in policing, is there a way to minimize this practice, allow learning opportu- nities, and full transparency? continued on page 40

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