Albuquerque police using facial recognition technology

October 21, 2015 - 

After testing various facial recognition technologies for the past two years, the Albuquerque police department (APD) said it is regularly using a program to catch criminals, according to a report by ABC KOAT 7 Albuquerque.

The APD Real Time Crime Center division said it recently used the software to identify a shoplifting suspect, although it did not specify the name of the software vendor.

Using an image of the suspect taken from surveillance video, APD were able to match it with another image found in a database of more than 250,000 mugshots taken of previously arrested individuals.

APD said that while it has already used the facial recognition technology to identify several suspects, it does not solely rely on the tool to identify and catch criminals.

“[The technology is] just a lead or a tip to the investigators,” said APD Real Time Crime Center director T.J. Wilham. “We’d never make an arrest just solely based off of a facial recognition hit.”

Meanwhile, the technology has its share of critics such as American Civil Liberties Union spokesperson Micah McCoy, who is concerned about how the technology will be used in the future.

“It’s not so much about the department using it, it’s how the department might use it in the future,” said McCoy. “What’s to stop the police department from one day saying we’re going to scan everybody who walks into the New Mexico State Fair?”

The department has assured the public that this kind of practice will not occur.

“We’re sticking to only people who have been arrested, who’ve been charged with a crime, inside the city of Albuquerque,” said Wilham.

The ACLU has asked police to publish a set of strict guidelines outlining the terms of how and when they use facial recognition technology.

Previously reported, use of facial recognition technology by police at a UK music festival in June is under review by the force’s new ethics committee.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.