LAPD's facial recognition use policy approved by Los Angeles Police commission

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- The Los Angeles Police Commission on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve the Los Angeles Police Department's use of facial recognition software to identify potential suspects.

The policy was approved with a modification for the Inspector General to work with the commission's executive committee to develop and ensure a "strong oversight system," according to Commission President Eileen Decker.

The department uses photo comparison technology from Los Angeles County's Digital Mugshot System to identify suspects in three situations:

-- to investigate crimes;
-- to mitigate an imminent threat to life; and
-- to help identify a person who is incapable of identifying themselves, including when the person is incapacitated, deceased or at-risk.

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The LAPD does not allow facial recognition platforms outside the county's mugshot system to be used, and the computer-generated list of comparisons must be investigated further by human analysis.

Civil liberties advocates say facial recognition software systems are less accurate for people of color, women and children. An M.I.T. study reported by the New York Times in 2018 concluded that racial disparities exist because the artificial intelligence is "taught" using a supply of photos featuring many more white men than black women, for example.

"We recognize that the role of photo comparison, and even eyewitness testimony, is rigorously challenged in our court system and must often times be corroborated by independent and separate items of evidence and information to demonstrate that this wasn't just an encounter where a person mistakenly identifies another individual as being responsible for a crime, when in fact they are not actually responsible,'' Chief Michel Moore said during Tuesday's Los Angeles Police Commission meeting.

Moore also said the department will not be using the software to track citizens.
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