AI in Law Enforcement

The usage of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in law enforcement, especially in traffic monitoring and control, has been steadily increasing. In a recent case, an AI-powered surveillance program tracked the activity of a car over a two-year period, as it traveled along a suspected drug-trafficking route, leading to a federal drug trafficking case. The case has been reported by Fox News Digital and shows the growing reliance of police forces on AI technologies.

The Case of David Zayas

The vehicle, driven by David Zayas, a convicted drug dealer, was seen making nine trips between Massachusetts and New York City. The tracking was made possible by hundreds of license plate readers (LPRs) that scanned a database of 1.6 billion New York license plates over two years.

The Role of Rekor Scout

Westchester County police used AI-powered software, Rekor Scout, to detect patterns in Zayas’ movements. The software uses AI to enhance public safety by providing license plate recognition and vehicle recognition.

When Zayas was pulled over for minor traffic infractions, police discovered 112 grams of crack cocaine, a semiautomatic pistol, and $34,000 in cash hidden throughout the car. This case demonstrates the potential for AI in aiding law enforcement in their efforts to combat crime.

Legal and Privacy Concerns

However, the usage of such technology has also raised questions about legality and privacy concerns, as the case is reported by Forbes. Zayas’ lawyer, Ben Gold, questioned the legality of using AI surveillance “without any judicial oversight.” The breadth of the LPR system was described as a warrantless search. Furthermore, Gold highlighted the potential privacy invasion caused by the combination of high-powered tech, AI, and two-year storage of data.

Looking Ahead: AI and Legal Protections

While AI’s role in policing is increasingly significant, it’s clear that these developments come with their own set of legal and ethical considerations. Privacy advocates and legal experts have begun to question the expansive use of AI in surveillance, calling for more robust legal protections. As this case illustrates, the intersection of AI and law enforcement will continue to be an area of intense scrutiny and debate.