South Florida law enforcement using facial recognition technology to identify criminals

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – Facial recognition technology being used in police investigations is facing new scrutiny.

Some critics believe it struggles to identify people of color.

State driver’s license photos and booking mugshots are some of the tools used by investigators in Pembroke Pines and other cities throughout Florida as they try to identify criminals using facial recognition.

“With technology nowadays, people know how to use it to their advantage so I definitely think they should use it with some rules,” said Krystal Denis, who works in Pembroke Pines.

The city is now doing just that. In a workshop last week, Commissioner Angelo Castillo pushed for written guidelines governing how and when police can access the technology.

“This is going to be governed and managed, knowing that this is a tool of incredibly powerful use, but it’s also a highly suspect tool,” said Castollo.

Pembroke Pines police has an agreement with the state to access the database, which is run out of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

The system called FACES uses an image to map facial features and help make an id and potentially jumpstart an investigation.

“We’re not going to be using this in patrol cars, and we’re not going to be arresting people solely on how they appear,” said Castollo.

But critics believe misidentifications can and have happened.

Florida’s ACLU weighed in, urging the city to suspend use of these technologies. The ACLU told Local 10 News in a statement they, “Pose a threat to our constitutional rights, but also to people of color and other marginalized groups who are more likely to be misidentified—and bear the consequences.”


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