New Orleans DA Opts to Fight Crime the AI Way

Amid ever-increasing crime and a police department that is overworked and acutely understaffed, the New Orleans district attorney has assembled a task force composed of experts who exploit artificial intelligence to gather the evidence needed to combat crime.

The DA, Jason Williams, told The Wall Street Journal his OSINT Task Force — Open Source Intelligence — leans on the collection of intelligence through information that’s publicly available. Social media accounts of criminals, for example.

The 11-person task force is composed of employees from nonprofit Bancroft Global Development and Tranquility AI, a startup that boasts former U.S. intelligence analysts who used AI to track terrorist cells, including Osama bin Laden.

And terror is what New Orleans has on its streets, Williams said.

“Someone unloading an AK-47 on a group of people in a city street, whether it’s a street in America or a street somewhere else, is terrorism,” Williams told the WSJ.

The Journal reports the task force, perhaps a little ahead of its time, has not been publicly announced in New Orleans. Williams said the task force has been working with the DA’s office for about five months at a cost of $250,000 so far for the pilot.

The impetus to form the task force was a dire need in New Orleans brought on by more crime than the police force can investigate itself. Prosecutors have 300 open homicide cases while working with the NOPD that continues to be understaffed.

“Ten years from now, there won’t be a DA’s office or a police department that does not have some team like this or some partnership or arrangement like this,” Williams told the Journal.

To that end, Tranquility AI founder Dave Harvilicz, a onetime official in the Energy Department in President Donald Trump’s first administration, told the Journal that his team is currently doing much of their intelligence analysis by hand. But within the year, Harvilicz said the AI should be up and running, creating a platform that can be sold to law enforcement agencies around the country.

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Mark Swanson

Mark Swanson, a Newsmax writer and editor, has nearly three decades of experience covering news, culture and politics.

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