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LAPD has compliance issues; other departments move ahead with facial recognition

Contracts for Clearview AI and Genetec
LAPD has compliance issues; other departments move ahead with facial recognition

Local police in the United States continue to update and sign new biometric surveillance contracts despite instances of vocal opposition. And a chief concern that privacy advocates have about the trend, that departments will not honor compliance agreements, does, in fact, occur.

An inspector general of the Los Angeles Police Department says that the sprawling force mostly complies with a use policy it agreed to last year covering facial recognition. But, according to the inspector general, that is not true when it comes to verifying or even analyzing system results.

The department already had trust issues when the use policy was approved in 2021.

By that point, reporting by The Los Angeles Times indicated that facial recognition had been used by police 30,000 times since 2009. Department officials had steadfastly denied that claim.

Reporting this week on the inspector general’s findings, the Times says there is “no clear process for documenting either an investigation’s results or corroborating evidence that confirms” a match.

The inspector general reportedly has told the president of the city’s police commission that he was unaware of any way to analyze the demographics of people wrongly identified by algorithms.

It is not clear what facial recognition software the LAPD is using, whether it is homegrown or commercial. Department officials, however, subsequently were forced to admit that officers had performed 18 identity searches in 2020 using Clearview AI.

Clearview, meanwhile, has won an $18,000 annual contract for three years with a suburban Atlanta, Ga., community. Commissioners of Cobb County unanimously approved the contract this week.

County police had been using Clearview for facial identification for six months as part of a free trial, according to department chief Stuart VanHoozer. The chief said his department is writing a use policy to be in place before using the service. There was no policy during the trial.

The contract surprised some in the county. Local news reports showed one person castigating commissioners, saying she did not want the government to “own” her face.

Running ahead of that county and Los Angeles, police officials in Albuquerque, N.M., have normalized facial recognition systems as a standard tool for fighting crime.

This week, it signed a contract with security system integrator Genetec to give officers a more-coherent view of security and business intelligence information, enhancing surveillance of the desert city. Albuquerque police have used facial recognition systems since at least 2015.

No dollar amount was provided for that contract.

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