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Pasadena’s Public Safety Committee to See Presentation on Facial Recognition Software

Police will update the committee on current software, policies

Published on Monday, February 17, 2020 | 4:44 pm

[UPDATE Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020 | 9:30 a.m. ] Wednesday’s Public Safety Committee meeting has been canceled, a city official told Pasadena Now minutes ago.

“The Public Safety Committee meeting tomorrow is being canceled due to lack of quorum,” said Pasadena Public Information Officer Lisa Derderian.

At that meeting, the Pasadena Police Department was scheduled to hold presentations on the department’s facial recognition software and 2019 Use of Force incidents. Those presentations will occur at a later date.]

In a presentation on Wednesday, Pasadena Police Cpl. Thomas Blanchard will update the City Council’s Public Safety Committee on the department’s use of facial recognition software.

The department currently uses two forms of the software: Vigilant, which stores mug shots from across the nation and LACRIS, which primarily uses mug shots from LA County and other jurisdictions that participate.

The presentation describes the software as an “Investigative tool only,” that “cannot be used a sole basis for arrest.”

The county system has helped detectives in 30 cases, according to Grisafe. So far, the Vigilant system has produced no hits.

The software maps an individual’s facial features mathematically and stores the data as a faceprint. The software uses deep learning algorithms to compare a live capture of digital image to store the face print in order to verify an individual’s identity.

“The Police Department will provide an overview of the facial recognition software utilized by the police department,” said Police Department Spokesperson William Grisafe.

“This software, which provides only an investigatory lead, assists Detectives in criminal investigations where a picture of the suspect is provided, but the suspect’s identity is not known.”

Assembly Bill 1215 prohibits a law enforcement agency or law enforcement officer from installing activating or using any biometric surveillance system in connection with an officer’s camera or data collected by an officer’s camera. Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill last year. It will remain in effect until Jan. 1, 2023.

Critics claim the software could be used to violate civil rights.

In 2018, facial recognition software was used during a Taylor Swift concert at the Rose Bowl. Cameras were hidden in a display kiosk showing videos of Swift’s rehearsals, Mike Downing told Rolling Stone. Images of the faces of the concert-goers in the kiosk were sent to a facility in Nashville, where they were cross-referenced with a database containing images of Swift’s stalkers.

In 2012 the San Diego Association of Governments allowed law enforcement to use Tactical Identification System software. The software focuses on unique textures and facial patterns, including ear shape, hair, skin color—using the distance between the eyes as a baseline.

The software compares that data to a database containing 1.8 million images collected by the San Diego County Sheriff’s office.

There were no public hearings on the software in San Diego.

In Carlsbad, city officials falsely claimed that the city did not use facial recognition software when, in fact, that department had been part of a regional face recognition pilot program for a number of years. All told, 14 Carlsbad officers were using special smartphones that capture faces and match them against the county’s mug shot database. City officials could not produce policies or guidelines for the use of the devices, and had no record of how many times the devices were used. The only information they had was the user’s manual for the device.

Several agencies have banned law enforcement agencies from using their databases in facial recognition software, including the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.





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