Detroit police defend facial recognition technology amid criticism

Officials to vote today on use of tech
Posted at 10:11 PM, Jun 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-27 06:46:22-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Detroit police are defending the controversial use of facial recognition. On Thursday, people living in the city came out to listen to what DPD had to say about the technology, and why they will use it.

Officials will vote Thursday, June 27 on the use of the facial recognition technology.

Detroit is one of two cities using facial recognition technology for policing purposes, however, the use of the technology has people for it, while others are crying foul.

"The whole thing is about protection," said Pastor Maurice L. Hardwick, who supports facial recognition technology.

Still, Detroit residents are speaking out about facial recognition.

"I’m pretty sure they’re going to have guidelines that’s not going to infringe on peoples rights," Hardwick said.

Some are for it, while others are against it.

"What bothers me is real-time facial recognition, where the camera is on you it’s live," said Scott Boman. "They see who you are while you’re moving about the community."

Police say facial recognition is a good tool that will help with crime and safety.

"It would not be the sole identifier, even if it came back with a positive hit it is not the sole identifier of the perpetrator," DPD assistant Chief James White said.

Last year, Detroit signed a million dollar agreement with a surveillance vendor that allows the city to monitor and screen live video.

"You use that hit or that positive information to substantiate whether or not that perpetrator was at that location when the crime happened," White said.

Detroit implemented the surveillance initiatives in 2016 with Project Green Light. That program provides a live feed to police. Green lights are set up at more than 500 businesses around the city. Officers can use those cameras for facial recognition.

"Criminals and high crimes are located trying to flee the scene," Pastor Hardwick said. "It’s also a deterrent when you know there’s a green light or a camera right there, it also makes them think twice before committing that crime."

Some say this practice infringes on their privacy, others say it will help protect them.

"Giving them that technology and allowing them that kind of use is what I’m most afraid of," Boman said.