Michigan Capitol to enforce gun ban with artificial intelligence
LANSING — Authorities at the Michigan State Capitol are beginning to use artificial intelligence to detect any firearms in a bid to increase security amid a growing national wave of political threats and violence.
Company officials at the ZeroEyes firm announced the deployment Monday, saying Michigan is the first state Capitol in the nation to use its gun-detection technology, which was also implemented last year at Oxford High School in the wake of a mass shooting there.
The system, which will analyze footage from existing video cameras to identify brandished or otherwise drawn firearms, represents the latest in a series of escalating security measures at the Michigan Capitol following armed protests in 2020.
The Michigan Capitol Commission earlier this year approved installation of metal detectors inside the building and implemented a full indoor gun ban, except for lawmakers with a concealed-weapons permit.
Commissioners last month unanimously approved the lease with ZeroEyes, a Pennsylvania-based firm, which is expected to cost about $3,000 a month.
The money will come from existing security funding first proposed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who was the subject of a kidnapping plot orchestrated by men who also discussed storming the Capitol.
“It’s just another layer of protection,” Rob Blackshaw, executive director of the state Capitol Commission, told Bridge Michigan. “Our biggest goal — as we’ve said from Day One — is to decrease any potential of a mass shooting and increase our level of safety for the people who work here and visit here.”
The artificial intelligence system will tap into existing video surveillance at the Capitol, including inside the building and outside grounds, where openly carried firearms are still allowed.
If a gun is identified, images will be “immediately” reviewed by trained specialists at ZeroEyes, including military and law enforcement veterans, the company said Monday. If those specialists confirm a threat, they’ll send alerts and other “actionable intelligence” to Capitol police in a matter of seconds, according to the firm.
Capitol officials tested the technology last week. It was working as of Friday but was not yet being used for “live reporting,” Blackshaw told Bridge Michigan.
The system will help state police identify any guns drawn inside the building in the event a person is able to bypass existing metal detectors, Blackshaw said.
If there’s “a lone wolf” outside, “before they even get to the building we’ll know if they draw a weapon,” he added.
“So it just gives (police) opportunity to make better decisions and quicker decisions based on the intelligence that was provided.”
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