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Team of volunteers using advanced AI to help IMPD solve decades old cold case

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Posted at 6:25 PM, Jun 19, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS — On Monday night, Sophia Delgado is sitting in a classroom with seven other people. It’s a spot she didn’t think she’d ever find herself in.

“It’s an interesting combination of things,” Delgado said.

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Delgado is a student service coordinator at a flight school but now once a week, she’s doing investigative work.

She’s part of a team trying to shed light on a decades old cold case for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

“I think a lot of people are interested in true crime podcasts but there’s always that separation from it,” Delgado said. “Now, it’s like, this is real and I’m a part of it. I get to contribute.”

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Delgado is part of Team Monocles.

“They’re all really smart people,” Ron Brumbarger, the team manager, said.

Brumbarger brought all seven people together. They all have different education and work backgrounds.

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Brumbarger is trained in creative problem solving. He first began working with IMPD five-years-ago and this is the second case he’s helped with.

He can't talk about specifics to the case, but he first started working on it when he was with Apprentice University. Brumbarger worked on this case with a team until last summer.

He's no longer with Apprentice University, but he's formed a new team and they're looking at the case again.

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Team Monocles is using advanced AI to look at the unsolved case.

"We're not using Chat GPT, that won't work," Brumbarger said. "We try to develop our questions and finding in AI, then we bring those to the conversation.”

IMPD Captain Roger Spurgeon says this is a new way to start looking at cases.

"This is new territory we don't really know what it can do for us," Spurgeon said.

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Right now, IMPD has 1,094 unsolved homicides over the life of the department. The department's current homicide clearance rate is 72.5%, which is up from last year.

Spurgeon says bringing Team Monocles on board partly has to do with a lack of manpower, but they're also using technology that could hopefully keep the clearance rate on the upward trend.

“That’s what we’re hoping for, that this process is something that is viable to apply to future cases or not,” Spurgeon said.

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Team Monocles says their ultimate goal is to catch the perpetrator in the case with an expectation of giving IMPD a list of action items that detectives can follow up on.

The team will work on the case for 90 days and get additional time if they are close to a breakthrough.