New Facial Recognition Software Can Help Police Intercept PFA Violations—and Thwart Potential Tragedy

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Dec 08, 2023 | 0 Comments

Pennsylvania residents who have been granted a Protection from Abuse (PFA) order to protect them from domestic violence—and the law enforcement officers tasked with enforcing those orders—now have a new technological tool on their side. It's called Overwatch, and it works with a doorbell camera system such as Blink or Ring to identify PFA offenders who are near the victim's residence.

Need help with PFA allegation defense? The LLF Law Firm Criminal Defense Team is available to assist. Call 888-535-3686 or contact us here.

Pennsylvania PFA Orders

A Protection from Abuse order is a court order that requires the abuser to stay away from and cease all communication with their victim(s). They are forbidden from making any contact whatsoever, including in person, over the phone, or by electronic means such as text or messaging apps. If they attempt to make contact, the abuser is in violation of the PFA—and liable to be arrested on criminal charges.

That is if they are caught.

Abusers who approach their victims in person may not necessarily come to the door; they could also be spying or stalking from neighboring property or across the street. In both cases, it can be difficult for law enforcement officers to apprehend them quickly enough to prevent them from approaching—and often assaulting or even killing—the victim. That's where Overwatch comes in.

How Overwatch Works

Developed by Jim Ramsey, a former Shrewsbury Police detective, Overwatch works by using AI facial recognition software in tandem with a doorbell camera. After installing the Overwatch app, the protected person uploads photographs of their abuser. AI software uses the images to identify that person if they are within the vicinity and, therefore, violating the PFA.

Overwatch scans the area 24/7, and immediately notifies authorities if the violator is identified.

That way, the victim can take shelter or possibly leave the area via another route, while police officers can respond to the scene and intercept the person violating the PFA—before the situation escalates.

Being Served With a PFA

It can be frightening and confusing to be served with a Protection from Abuse order—particularly if you feel you haven't committed abuse. Know that simply being served with a temporary PFA and having to attend a hearing doesn't necessarily mean that you are guilty or that you will be restricted by a permanent order.

Courts and law enforcement agencies take these protective orders seriously, as they should, to protect genuine victims. However, there are plenty of instances in which angry individuals seek a PFA as revenge or to gain leverage in a custody battle.

Regardless of what you have or haven't done or why someone has named you in a Pennsylvania PFA, the LLF Law Firm can advise and assist you. The experienced Criminal Defense Team is ready to hear your story and take action to help, so contact us here or call 1-888-535-3686 to get started.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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