At LEO Technologies, we “hear the voices that matter.” But what does that mean? How do our products not only support police, but entire communities, including inmates in jails and prisons? This is the first post in a series about our company, our people, and the critical needs behind our work.
LEO Technologies from the beginning
Our company was founded by law enforcement officers (LEOs) committed to law enforcement reform. These LEOs saw the gaps left by using outdated practices and the need to bring policing into modern times. They saw firsthand how inmate phone services in jails and prisons routinely recorded phone calls but never gave LEOs an easy, non-biased way to search for important information within specific calls. Millions of minutes of recorded phone calls could not be accessed except through hours of listening—hours that no agency or facility could spare.
At the same time, they knew that these phone calls contained valuable intelligence. This intelligence could be related to existing investigations or could be used to intervene in ongoing crime. Cries for help from vulnerable inmates were also hidden within these phone calls, information that could potentially save lives.
Filling the resource gap
LEO Technologies developed Verus as a way to fill this resource gap. Using the power of artificial intelligence, Verus uses non-biased Natural Language Processing to enable not only searches of phone call transcripts but proactive alerts on keywords.
Most importantly, Verus was developed to be a non-biased, objective tool. The natural language processing technology behind AI focuses only on the actual words transcribed from a phone call—not the caller’s identity. Verus has no way to search calls by federally protected classes such as race, age, gender, ethnicity, religion, or sexuality. Investigators may only search for calls by objective data, such as inmate name, date of call, or keyword.
Soon our company expanded into Warden, a complementary tool that detects illicit mobile phones in jails and prisons. The dangers of these contraband phones are well-known: enabling violence and smuggling within facilities and helping inmates plan crimes in outside communities.
Sharing information, caring for inmate well-being
LEO Technologies prides itself on working with law enforcement agencies that are willing to share information and are open to progressive ideas in policing. We partner with innovative area crime centers that share information across multiple jurisdictions and agencies at all levels. Transparency with the intelligence gained from Verus is important to us.
Concern for inmate safety and health is critical for our company. Our CEO, Scott Kernan, is the former Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, where he worked to reduce the inmate population and remove harsh isolation policies.
LEO Technologies knows that inmates often do not feel comfortable asking the people to whom they have been entrusted for the help they need. Inmates may speak more frankly in phone calls to friends and family. Because of immediate keyword alerts, Verus helps support inmate physical health, mental health, and safety. In 2019 alone, Verus was involved in 88 suicide prevention incidents in multiple facilities. Verus has also helped identify inmates going through opioid withdrawal or who were threatened by sexual assault. The immediate information from Verus allowed staff to proactively connect at-risk inmates with critical services.
Please check back with us regularly as we explore topics such as inmate health, privileged communications, and why the U.S. Constitution is at the heart of our work.