Elkhart County looking into AI system to help deter crime

NOW: Elkhart County looking into AI system to help deter crime

ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. -  Elkhart County looking to artificial intelligence to help law enforcement. The company is called Banjo and its system goes through social media and alerts police to potential crimes.

The program goes by keyword searches through social media. For example, if someone posts to Facebook that they want to shoot up a school, the system will then alert local law enforcement so that they can start an investigation before anything even happens.

“When they had the mass shooting in Las Vegas this company had a 15-minute head start on monitoring that media so they could’ve notified the police 15 minutes earlier,” Thomas Stump, Elkhart County Council Member said. “15 minutes in that kind of situation is a lot.”

This artificial intelligence program looks through social media for keywords and alerts law enforcement to what it finds.

Elkhart County is looking to work with the company Banjo to assist law enforcement in responding to and deterring crime in the county.

“It’s going to give us if there is any indication on social media of a problem, the sheriff’s department will be notified of that earlier than maybe they would otherwise,” Stump said.

On Saturday, the county council voiced their support of a one-year free trial of Banjo’s program.

“We try it out for a year, see how we like it and then we decide if that’s what we would like to subscribe to, so sounds like a pretty good idea,” he said.

According to our reporting partners at the Elkhart Truth, the company would also monitor things like 911 calls, traffic cameras and weather data and combine it all to be understandable.

It will also be used in the Elkhart and Goshen city police departments – officers will have to be trained on the program.

“I think it will help a lot if it works the way they say it’s going to work,” Stump said.

“We got to do something to protect our children and to stop the violence,” Beth Kirkpatrick, a resident said.

However, Elkhart county residents are wary.

“I have in my lifetime seen laws that were meant to do positive things, end up being used for things that were not so positive so I’m cautious about it,” she said.

“I think it sounds like a complete invasion of privacy and I don’t agree with it at all,” Ross Troeger, another resident said.

“The only concern I have is if there is false information out there and the sheriff would happen to act on that false information, that could cause a problem but he says there is a way to determine that so looks good to me,” Stump said.

Prosecutor Vicki Becker told the Elkhart Truth there are algorithms in the system that do regulate it but they still want to see if police end up chasing down false leads.

“If there are enough checks and balances with this, I think it would be worth a try,” Kirkpatrick said.

Reports say the program should be implemented by March of course officers will have to be trained on the new system. We should really only see if the program is effective later on.

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