Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Poly join forces to fight Artificial Intelligence crime

Jun 07, 2024
Randy Avent and Grady Judd

Dr. Randy K. Avent, president of Florida Polytechnic University, shakes Sheriff Grady Judd’s hand at a press conference about the launch of a new AI investigative unit in partnership with the Polk County Sherriff’s Office on June 7.

The Polk County Sherriff’s Office (PSCO) announced the creation of a new law enforcement unit focused on cybercrime related to artificial intelligence (AI). The new AI investigative unit was developed in partnership with Florida Polytechnic University, which will provide essential technical and research support.

“Modern law enforcement needs to stay ahead of the technological curve when it comes to preventing, fighting, and solving crime. With the incredible upside potential benefits of artificial intelligence, there is a downside: criminals will use the technology to commit crime,” said Grady Judd, Polk County Sheriff. “This is not only an investigative unit – it is a holistic unit dedicated to vision in, discovery, and creativity. Its purpose is to use what we learn to keep the community safe. We are proud to partner with Florida Polytechnic University to benefit from their renowned expertise and human talent to help fight crime.” 

There are several operational goals of the newly created unit:

  • Obtain and maintain cutting-edge training and tools to help identify AI-related crime and criminals. 
  • Assist in criminal investigations involving the use of AI, including cyber harassment, identity theft, extortion, hate crimes, and other related cybercrimes. 
  • Identify emerging AI technologies and leverage and/or combat the misuse of these technologies.
  • Systematically vet new AI investigative software for use in a law enforcement setting.
  • Provide ongoing updates on emerging AI technologies, methodologies, and trending AI incidents to law enforcement leadership. 
  • Maintain up-to-date knowledge of developing AI trends, techniques, tactics, and procedures of threat actors using AI technology, including extortion or blackmail trends.
  • Identify and analyze deepfake and AI-altered images/video/audio production technologies and methodologies used to mislead the public.
  • Identify federal, state, and local agency partnerships for investigating AI incidents. Implement best policies and practices related to criminal AI investigations.
  • Provide training and assistance in investigations related to AI (internal to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and to external partner agencies).
Partnership with Florida Polytechnic University 

As part of the partnership, Florida Poly will help develop and assist with the ongoing operational success of the PCSO AI Investigation Unit, providing technical and research support. 

Florida Poly student interns will gain one-of-a-kind, real-world professional experience working and developing skills in the AI field with law enforcement professionals. The interns will provide advanced technology solutions to current PCSO systems. 

The president of Florida Poly, Dr. Randy K. Avent, said the University is exploring curriculum and degree opportunities related to AI fields of study. He also underscored the collaboration’s importance. 

“This working partnership with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office is a natural fit for our mission, which is to serve students and industry through excellence in education, discovery, and application of engineering and applied sciences,” Avent said. “We strive to find real-life applications to bring value to our students’ education and value to our community. This is one more way that we are leaders in building Florida's technology-based economy.” 


Lydia Guzmán
Director of Communications