The Austin, Texas Police Department has launched a new online non-emergency reporting system powered by artificial intelligence, or AI.
In an announcement Thursday, the Austin Police Department (APD) said it partnered with Versaterm Public Safety Affairs to launch new reporting software that communicates with the community via voice, mobile, web and text messages, instantly.
As it communicates with the public, the AI asks questions and fills out a report that provides “key information” to the department within hours, as one officer put it.
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Some of the types of reports accepted by the interface include minor assaults, threats other than domestic violence, burglary not involving arson, theft unless involving prescriptions, firearms, explosives, vehicle license plates and vehicles, and lost or stolen property.
AI can also report fraud, harassment, damaged property, graffiti, identity theft, child custody issues, trespassing, shoplifting reports, forgery and forgery.
Primarily, the new program can file a report unless the person reporting it is under 17, the suspect is no longer on the scene, and there is no immediate danger.
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“This platform reduces wait times for community members and speeds up the investigation process,” the department said in the online release.
After a file is submitted, a case number is assigned to the person who made the report.
Reports are available in English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Hindi, Korean, Traditional Chinese and Vietnamese and many other languages.
“We are confident this technology will streamline the reporting process, reduce the current backlog of non-emergency APD requests made through 3-1-1, and provide community members with personalized attention to their incidents,” the release said. “With the successful development of this first phase, APD plans to further expand the use of the Case Service.”
The development of the AI-based software comes as the city of Austin faces serious staffing issues with its police department.
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Last week, it was reported that 40 officers had submitted retirement papers following a 9-2 city council vote a few weeks ago to scrap a four-year contract the city had agreed to. Instead, the city council sought a one-year contract that the police union rejected.
The move from the city is believed by many to be due to intense pressure from anti-police activists in Austin, who are seeking to stall a long-term deal until voters decide on competing ballot initiatives on police oversight, which will be voted on in May.
Budget cuts by the city council during the George Floyd unrest in 2020 have reduced the ranks of police probationers and sent staffing into a downward spiral that could take more than 10 years to recover from, police sources said. , if the ship is immediately restored.
The department also eliminated some task forces because of staffing problems, which ignored certain types of crimes and forced police to stop responding to non-emergencies.
As a result, the city hit an all-time homicide record in 2021 and morale in the department plummeted.
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Andrew Mark Miller of Fox News contributed to this report.