“Win-Win” Public-Private Partnership Between Axon and Washington State


David Makin, Assistant Professor, Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology

The Complex Social Interactions Lab has grown tremendously since it first started in Fall 2016 after assistant professor David Makin received a faculty seed grant in the WSU Grand Challenges program. Led by Dr. Makin, the research team includes Dr. Dale Willits, also of the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology; Dr. Rachel Baily of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication; and Dr. Bryce Dietrich of the University of Iowa, Iowa Informatics Initiative (UI3). Rachael Brooks is the lab manager with Wendy Koslicki (ABD) acting as a senior research assistant.

Following are just a few of the accomplishments and updates from the last year.

Dale Willits, Assistant Professor, Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology

Axon Accelerate Conference and Research Partnership with Axon. Dr. Makin attended the Axon Accelerate Conference in June, on the days of the record-setting heatwave, and gave a presentation with Chief Jenkins of the Pullman Police Department about the value of converting body-worn camera footage into actionable data. The presentation was well attended and led to discussions with several agencies about participating in this important research.

After nine months of work, Dr. Makin entered into a research partnership with Axon. This partnership provides the CSI lab with 60 body-worn cameras, monitoring hardware, and unlimited storage to improve the development of technology to improve police efficiency and officer health and safety.

Research Collaboration with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab. The lab recently received a grant from the Applied Physics Lab (APL) at Johns Hopkins University. The first phase of the research is a research gap analysis on the state of body-worn camera research. Wendy Koslicki (ABD) is working with Dr. Makin alongside Dr. Steve Babin of APL to identify gaps in the research, specifically within areas of cognitive recall and the influence of camera angles on perceptions. This research is under a subcontract in support of research for the Department of Homeland Security: Science and Technology Directorate. Phase II research will focus on the collection of biometric data in concert with research on object detection and perceptual awareness.

Washington State University’s Police Corps Program. New this year, we will be working with the Washington State University Police Corps Program. Thanks to our partnership with Axon, we have multiple body-worn cameras to generate research data for the development of various classifiers for the detection of use of force, emotionally intense situations, and technologies to improve the evaluation of training effectiveness. Cadets will wear a body-worn camera while they are training as well as when they are engaging in public safety. We are thankful for Police Corporal Kelly Stewart’s collaboration, support from Chief Bill Gardner of the WSU Police Department and Information Systems Director Den Bowker, and all of the trainers and cadets for participation in the project. (Equipment Delivery from Axon)

499 Research Internship. Thanks to the outreach efforts of department undergraduate advisor Sisouvanh Keopanapay and Dr. Makin, we have been fortunate to work with a lot of great undergraduates in the lab. We have seven new research coders in the lab this semester and four returning coders from the spring semester. While earning credit for their degree, undergraduates learn how to conduct content analysis and are introduced to the development of classifiers. Additionally, students are exposed to a different perspective on what takes place in police–citizen interactions. Most undergraduates mention at the end of the semester that their perception of the police has positively changed. Indeed, undergraduate research coders watched more than 4,600 hours of footage last semester. Without them, the lab would not exist as it does today.

Interview with KOMO News. Following the release of the press release on the research partnership with Axon, Dr. Makin participated in several interviews with local, state, and national news agencies. The first of these was with KOMO news.

Audio available:

By Rachael Brooks.

For more information about the use of force in body-worn camera videos, please visit the following websites; and for Dr. David Makin’s interview please visit PoliceOne.com:

  1. Published on July 12, 2017: WSU News, “WSU developing innovative technology to improve policing, public safety”: https://news.wsu.edu/2017/07/12/wsu-developing-innovative-tech-improve-policing-public-safety/
  2. Published on July 14, 2017: Biometric Update, “WSU researchers using body cams, biometrics and machine learning to improve policing”: http://www.biometricupdate.com/201707/wsu-researchers-using-body-cams-biometrics-and-machine-learning-to-improve-policing
  3. Published on July 16, 2017: Israeli Homeland Security, “Police Officer’s Bodycams – Researching Use of Force”: https://i-hls.com/archives/77562
  4. Published on July 17, 2017: College of Arts and Sciences Headlines (CAS News), “Police Officer’s Bodycams- Researching Use of Force”: https://cas.wsu.edu/news/2017/07/17/police-officers-bodycams-researching-use-of-force/
  5. Published on July 21, 2017: College of Arts and Sciences Headlines (CAS News), “Axon Announces Intent to Partner with Washington State University to Further Groundbreaking Research on Police-Community Interactions”: https://cas.wsu.edu/news/2017/06/21/axon-announces-intent-to-partner-with-washington-state-university-to-further-groundbreaking-research-on-police-community-interactions/
  6. Published on July 21, 2017: CISION PR Newswire, “Axon Announces Intent to Partner with Washington State University to Further Ground Breaking Research on Police-Community Interactions”: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/axon-announces-intent-to-partner-with-washington-state-university-to-further-ground-breaking-research-on-police-community-interactions-300477257.html
  7. Published on July 21, 2017: Benziga, “Axon Announces Intent to Partner with Washington State University to Further Ground Breaking Research on Police-Community Interactions”: https://www.benzinga.com/pressreleases/17/06/n9634785/axon-announces-intent-to-partner-with-washington-state-university-to-fu
  8. Published on September 21, 2017: PoliceOne.com, “How body camera footage can enhance officer training”: https://www.policeone.com/policing-in-the-video-age/articles/421458006-How-body-camera-footage-can-enhance-officer-training/ 

Project-related links:
Complex Social Interactions Laboratory: https://labs.wsu.edu/csi/
Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology: https://crmj.wsu.edu/
College of Arts & Sciences: https://cas.wsu.edu
WSU Grand Challenges: https://research.wsu.edu/research-initiatives/opportunity-equity/
Office of Research: https://research.wsu.edu/
Axon on Twitter: https://twitter.com/axon_us
Axon on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Axon.ProtectLife/

Dr. David Makin
Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology

Dr. Dale Willits
Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology