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Law enforcement agencies need an innovative way to reduce the element of human bias from police work. It is impera- tive that the police make improving relationships with their local communities a top priority (Importance of police-community re- lationships, 2015). Police practices must constantly be objective- ly evaluated, not only by the profession, but also by the public they serve. A computer system programmed with AI software to augment decision-making could provide the solution. COLLABORATE WITH KEY STAKEHOLDERS TO GET THE VIRTUAL PARTNER DEVELOPED “We live in the information age, a period in human history characterized by the shift from industrial production to one based on information and computerization” (Beyond the Information Age). The law enforcement profession is often reluctant to adopt new technologies for a myriad of reasons. Eventually, technol- ogy does find its way into the profession as seen in mobile digital computers, in-car cameras, conductive energy weapons, and body worn cameras. Likewise, the Virtual Partner could harness and convey the right amount of information needed to ensure officers make sound decisions without society’s fear of bias. Lieutenant Noel Coady, California Highway Patrol (CHP) Counterterrorism and Threat Awareness Manager, indicated technology is “our (CHP) future”. He further related that AI would prove to be a beneficial tool to convey useful information and knowledge to officers in the field (Coady, November 2019). Like personal assistants in our homes, such as Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri, a Virtual Partner could be developed to assist police officers. In September 2019, Jeff Kunins joined Axon Enterprises, the company that manufactures Taser conductive energy weapons, body worn cameras, and records manage- ment systems for police agencies. Kunins was formerly the vice president of Amazon’s Alexa Entertainment. "He's my software soulmate," says Rick Smith, co-founder and CEO of the Axon En- terprises, which has been hiring employees from big tech firms for the past few years. Kunins now oversees Axon's software road map, the list of technologies Axon thinks will be widely used over the next decade. While this might include Alexa-like voice interaction for police — Smith said — it also includes leveraging AI to make po- lice work easier. Smith created the Axon AI and Policing Technol- ogy Ethics Board, a mix of police veterans, privacy experts and civil libertarians, including Barry Friedman, a law professor and director of the Policing Project at New York University School of Law. “Axon is working on really impactful social problems,” Axon’s Smith said. “There’s something rewarding about work- ing on things you see in the news every night, things that can be very divisive. These are issues for us as a tech company to be squarely running into.” It is also an indicator of where the com- pany, known for Tasers, body-worn cameras and, more recently, enterprise software for law enforcement, is headed (Overfelt, 2019). Although the specifics of what might be developed are not yet known, the Virtual Partner could be both an aid to the officer, and also the eyes and ears of the officer’s community. THE VIRTUAL PARTNER “Officer Jones, the way you treated Mrs. Evans on the traffic stop was not acceptable. You were discourteous to her when she asked when her upcoming court date would be. I realize you interact with many people daily, but keep in mind this is her

first ticket so she is not familiar with the court process. Please remember to treat each person with dignity and respect.” This reminder by the Virtual Partner could become reality, helping to keep officers in line with society’s expectations. In addition, officers would be able to ask policy and law questions to ensure compliance in any situation. For example, if the officer wasn’t sure if he could impound a vehicle, the Virtual Partner could provide applicable impound authority and departmental proce- dures. It’s like having a supervisor with you on scene. Law enforcement executives should consider embracing in- novation and collaborating with technology stakeholders like Axon and others to develop and implement technologies such as the Virtual Partner. The Virtual Partner would benefit society with better aligned police-community relationships and safer neighborhoods as people become more trusting of police inter- actions. It could be programmed to provide discreet real-time guidance to officers to ensure adherence to departmental policy, procedures, laws, and societal expectations. It has the potential to standardize the way members of society are treated, with pro- gramming input from both the police and community oversight groups to help moderate police conduct. Society’s needs and expectations would be largely met as the Virtual Partner supervises all public contacts to reduce human bias in officer’s actions. The Virtual Partner could transform any officer into a trusted public servant with the use of an ency-

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