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Artificial Intelligence Applications in Law Enforcement: An Overview of Artificial Intelligence Applications and Considerations for State and Local Law Enforcement

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2020
10 pages

This second in a series of four technology briefs that examine artificial intelligence (AI) applications in the criminal justice system focuses on AI applications currently used by law enforcement agencies, provides frameworks for evaluating AI applications, and summarizes risks to consider when deploying AI systems.


AI can be broadly viewed as a domain of computer science that creates machines that mimic human intelligence. Although many of the AI examples provided in this brief have not yet been widely adopted by law enforcement agencies, AI applications generally improve efficiency, increase data-driven practices, and expand capabilities for law enforcement agencies. Broadly, AI solutions can assist law enforcement agencies in making decisions and performing tasks. They can improve efficiency, increase data-driven practices, or expand capabilities for specific tasks or decisions; for example, AI applications can assist in determining how many officers an agency needs, where resources should be deployed, and the optimal scheduling strategy for officers. This brief describes AI cases, products, and vendor technologies in illustrating how some agencies have incorporated AI in their operations. It notes that the challenge is for law enforcement agencies to identify cases in which data quality and availability, technology maturity, and ethical constraints serve both the needs of the law enforcement agency and the community. Expanded uses of AI technologies in law enforcement require that all stakeholders, including representatives of the community and other criminal justice agencies, have ongoing conversations about the tradeoffs between personal privacy and public safety as AI applications evolve to provide expanded surveillance and investigative capabilities. Some of the expanding capabilities of AI technologies in law enforcement are described. 4 figures and 8 references 

Date Published: August 1, 2020