AI to Teach Cops to be Politically Correct?

The Los Angeles Police Department—yes, that one, of “violent extremist views” infamy regarding its cops displaying the Thin Blue Line flag anywhere in public—now is going to use Artificial Intelligence to teach cops how to be politically correct and suitably social justice-y when they make traffic stops and potentially in other, even more tension-filled, encounters.

The headline says it all:

AI to binge LAPD bodycam footage to weed out rude tone, aggressive language

Because rudeness is so terrible, and never mind the occasional—the often—need for cops to be aggressive during an encounter with an individual of the public, even on a traffic stop.

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) on Tuesday announced the research initiative during the Board of Police Commissioners meeting. LAPD Cmdr Marla Ciuffetelli said at the meeting the study will be used to help train future officers on how to best interact with the public while also promoting accountability, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Researchers at the University of Southern California will review [body camera] footage from about 1,000 traffic stops over the next three years and establish parameters on interactions deemed appropriate by department policies and public feedback, and inappropriate interactions.

The researchers will take into account the location of the traffic stop, the driver’s race, and the officer’s rank and age when analyzing their findings.

What could go wrong?

One major problem is that every stop is a unique encounter and those factors have greater or lesser influence depending on the individual cop and the individual person being stopped—and the degree of influence will vary from time to time for both the cop and the person being stopped.

What’s the difference between rude talk and banter? How do they differ from time to time? Even the most PC remark by the cop can be taken amiss by the stoppee, ranging from being viewed as condescending to not being PC enough to the stoppee simply feeling like taking offense because he woke up in an owly mood. Or because cop. Never mind that every traffic stop, and many other types of encounters, start out with the cop needing to be aggressive. “Kindly to stop doing that, Sir/Madam/Zir, and let’s chat for a bit” just isn’t going to cut it.

The “training” the LAPD line officers will be forced to undergo will, also, simply add to the tension any LA cop will feel when beginning an encounter—not over the encounter itself or the person’s reaction to the stop and to the cop, but over how LAPD…managers…will perceive the cop’s behavior when they review the encounter.

I have a problem with the proposed methodology, too.

LAPD has 150 cops and civilians for traffic enforcement. Those thousand traffic stops over three years works out to a bit over 2 stops per traffic enforcer per year. That’s not a big sample, even for something as supposedly magic as AI.

Maybe the city should leave off this kind of claptrap and use the money instead for hiring more cops, putting more cops on the street, and training cops how to be cops rather than everybody’s best friend out for a nice chat.

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