Detroit Police Commissioners Approve Use of Facial Recognition Technology

The Detroit Police Department has received the authority to use facial recognition technology to assist with its investigations, following a vote by the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners. The police will not use the technology to identify suspects and will not be able to access live surveillance streaming videos and security cameras. The new technology will help officers in situations in which they have a reasonable suspicion that a home invasion or a violent crime has occurred, such as a gun crime or a sexual assault. The police will allow other agencies to review the information received through the technology. The police will remove irrelevant information that they obtained through the use of the technology from their files.

Facial recognition technology is highly controversial. San Francisco banned its use earlier this year, and some lawmakers have urged that the police refrain from using it until it is better understood. However, the Detroit Police Department previously defied a ban by the state legislature on using the technology. In Project Green Light, which started in 2016, it installed a live feed from cameras in locations such as stores, gas stations, and churches to police headquarters.

Proponents of the technology, such as Detroit Chief of Police James Craig and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, believe that it can play a key role in helping the police solve crimes. Opponents, such as Commission Member Willie Burton, voiced concern that the technology is less effective at identifying persons of color than Caucasians. If an incident involving abuse of the system occurs, the mayor, the City Council, and the Board of Police Commissioners must be notified within 24 hours.

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