City Council approves purchase of software to identify officers at risk of misconduct

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UPDATE: The Rochester City Council voted on Tuesday night to purchase software that could help to identify police officers at risk of police misconduct. The vote passed 7 to 2.

The software is expected to cost $100,000 dollars a year over a course of five years. Supporters say it may help identify troubled officers before an incident occurs and save the city millions by avoiding lawsuits.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Rochester Police Department is looking into buying a new tool that will help it identify officers that may be at risk of police misconduct. It’s called the “Benchmark Analytics First Sign” software.

News10NBC talked to one church group that supports the program, and also found out what could happen if an officer is “red-flagged” by the software. United Christian Leadership Ministry says it’s been on the forefront of police community relations for over a decade. At the same time it’s also a fierce critic of their policies, and training.

“We greatly push and encourage City Council to vote yes on the proposal for this,” said UCLM Community Justice Advisory Board Chair Alex White.

Members of the Ministry stand behind the RPD, and its possible purchase of the “Benchmark Analytics First Sign” software. The program will keep track of the department’s policies and training. Most importantly, keep track of such matters as police “use of force” information, as well as other interactions with the community, which are kept in outdated systems according to the UCLM.

“The Benchmark system will allow information from these various diverse systems to be combined together to allow files and reports to be generated much quicker about how the officers are performing in various situations,” said White.

He offers this example. Let’s say an officer is red-flagged by the software because over a fiver year span that officer has four “uses of force” on his record. Then all of a sudden has six of them in just one quarter.

White said, “Previously this would not have drawn any attention. Under this system they will be able to say hey something is going on here. Perhaps we should talk to this officer, and find out if there are outstanding issues that are leading to problems.”

Problems that led to lawsuits against the police in the past.

“If this system can identify just a fraction of the problems, can identify those who will deal harm to the community, and help them not do so, we will be saving millions of dollars in lawsuits alone,” said White.

RPD’s proposal for the software program will cost $100K per year, for up to five years. Rochester City Council is expected to vote on approving the purchase of the software Tuesday night.

The Rochester Police Locust Club sent us a statement saying, “We are not opposed to the concept, we are more concerned with the actual software, cost and “unvalidated” (invalidated) independent reviews of the software. To spend 500k for a program to basically monitor patrol division that is less than 300. The information that it collects is already accessible. To integrate with current system would require more programming and unknown cost. Why make this purchase now? At least doing a little more vetting. There are more questions than answers on this product! If so-called detection is even true, what do they do with that information?”