Winnipeg police are planning to purchase new technology that uses artificial intelligence to scan video for specific information.
The province is giving the Winnipeg Police Service more than $290,000 through its criminal forfeiture fund to buy video analytics software that will let officers comb through hours of video evidence for specific figures and items of interest, such as people and vehicles.
It’s expected the technology could save investigators thousands of hours and make investigations more efficient, Staff Sgt. Josh Ewatski said at a Tuesday news conference.
“What I think this really speaks to is it will help investigators close files and get answers to victims’ families, to their friends, especially when it pertains to serious crimes such as homicide, serious assaults,” he said.
It’s not clear yet what specific program the Winnipeg Police Service will end up using. Police are looking at a few different options and will be going through a request for proposals process to acquire the software, Ewatski said.
Asked about privacy concerns, he said police would be using specific search terms when using the technology.
“The programs allow us to enter in specific parameters to search for and will then pull out that information, so that it’s very specific in terms of what the investigator is looking for,” he said.
The Winnipeg Police Service doesn’t have a precise timeline for when the technology will be in use but it will likely be in the near future, said Ewatski.
The money for the AI analytics software was part of a total of nearly $1.1 million from the criminal forfeiture fund — a program that seizes and liquidates crime-related property and redirects the money to public safety initiatives — that the province announced Tuesday will go to Winnipeg police to help fund a variety of crime prevention measures.
That also includes about $76,000 earmarked to facilitate trauma training for Winnipeg police officers to help them better cope with stressors on the job.
The training reflects a shift in how police approach mental health, Winnipeg Police Service deputy chief Scot Halley said.
“It’s not about, ‘Suck it up, move on to the next call.’ It’s about showing care and compassion for for people and making sure that they’re healthier,” he said.
About 200 Winnipeg Police Service staff are expected to go through the training over a two-day period.