It is not uncommon for law enforcement and security teams to avail themselves of new technologies in an effort to gain the upper hand against crime. When such tools are adopted, it is natural to seek media attention to share how forward-thinking your organization is with its advanced new tech – especially something as cool as a fully autonomous security robot. On the surface, this is a great way to share how we are safeguarding and protecting our citizens, employees, students and visitors, but it also invites the unsavory element to contemplate how to defeat these security measures.
Knightscope is no stranger to those that enjoy becoming the example for the rest of society. Since we began deploying our robots across the United States in 2015, we have assisted numerous law enforcement agencies with the rock-solid evidence needed to strengthen case files and affidavits, ultimately providing judges with the evidentiary foundation necessary to issue arrest warrants.
You see, we love what we do here at Knightscope, and we take great pride in supporting our clients. Our team is made up of some of the brightest and most talented engineers, former military personnel specializing in intelligence gathering, former law enforcement officers and investigators. Needless to say, when our clients call on us to assist them, we have a crack team ready, willing and able to help “cuff and stuff” the alleged bad guys.
You may recall one of our very first incidents in which an inebriated individual stumbled onto Knightscope’s property and assaulted one of our robots. The robot was unhappy being a victim and was undeterred from immediately sounding alarms and reporting the incident to our Knightscope Network Operations Center (KNOC) team. The subject was caught on site and detained by our very own EVP and Chief Client Officer (a former police officer himself) until the Mountain View Police arrived to provide room and board for the night. Since then, there have been many others, from grown adults to teenagers, who have tempted fate only to later find themselves in the same rent-free accommodations (i.e., jail).
In September 2018, an individual drove onto the property of a client in Washington where a diligent Knightscope K5 was patrolling. The suspect made his way over to the robot, looked it over, drove around the parking lot and then proceeded to use his vehicle to ram the robot. He then burglarized two buildings. 100% of the evidence in this case was gathered by the robot and provided to police, and later the prosecutor’s office. The case was finally adjudicated in December 2019 with the accused pleading guilty to three felonies. Law enforcement investigators are always seeking out the “smoking gun” that proves beyond a shadow of doubt that this is the person that committed the crime. And according to the District Attorney’s office, this was a slam-dunk case as a result.
Another compelling case occurred in 2019 and has come to be known as our “New Year’s Knuckle Heads.” Two gentlemen meandered onto our client’s property where, you guessed it, another K5 was patrolling. The two suspects in this instance were wearing long sleeves and hooded sweatshirts in an attempt to conceal their identities, but there is nothing foolproof in forensics and criminals always unknowingly leave behind a key piece of evidence. During this investigation, a very distinct tattoo was observed on one of the subjects’ hands. Police were able to use this as a form of “fingerprint” to identify the individual, and from that, the two subjects were subsequently located, apprehended and held financially responsible for the damage that they caused.
These are just a few of the many documented incidents we have encountered and aided in prosecution. Security technology needs to work for the end user and quickly provide the information needed to deter crime. As these examples highlight, the success of the technology also comes from the ability to recall, document and deliver forensic data to the prosecutors charged with holding the offenders accountable for their actions.
Take a lesson here, when you encounter a Knightscope robot feel free to say hello, take selfies/videos and enjoy the experience. But if you are there to cause trouble, the chips are stacked against you. As we always say in Law Enforcement, “you can run, but you will only go to jail tired.”
It is likely that messing with a security robot is a felony and we have all the evidence to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. We have and we will.
As you know, it is not a good idea to assault a police officer, mess with a law enforcement vehicle, or confront a security guard. It is also not a good idea to mess with an Autonomous Security Robot. It is there to help secure the places you work, study and visit so be nice to the robots!
P.S. LATEST UPDATE:
In February of 2020 Knightscope team members assisted a local municipal police department in identifying an individual suspected of vandalizing their K5 robot. As we have stated before in this article, it is not wise to mess with the robot; let alone one that is used by the police! Knightscope’s dedicated team received an alert from the robot and quickly identified that the individual attempted to damage the cameras on the robot. Although they were successful in causing damage, there was still plenty of great evidence for the police department. With the help of Knightscope, the police department notified our team that within 9 days of the incident the suspect had been identified, arrested and charged with one count of felony vandalism. He is still sitting in jail currently.
P.P.S. AND ANOTHER UPDATE:
In one of the above referenced cases, the presiding judge ordered restitution be paid to Knightscope in the amount of $21,968.56 as part of the defendant’s sentencing. The Court Clerk’s Office will be monitoring the defendant to ensure that he satisfies the obligation. If not, further charges may be applied. OUCH! It’s just not worth the risk. As we said before, we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.