In the summer of 2022, New Orleans city council permitted the use of facial recognition technology by police in an effort to swiftly identify suspects. Initially hailed as a promising and fair crime-solving tool, a year after its implementation, data analysis by POLITICO revealed starkly contrary outcomes.
The records disclosed that facial recognition in New Orleans had limited success, low association with arrests, and a disproportionate targeting of Black individuals. The data, obtained and scrutinized, showed that the system frequently failed to identify suspects and was predominantly used on Black individuals.
Initially, The New Orleans Police department first used facial recognition under the new policy was the targeting a Black shooting suspects. Results were a "Unable to match, low quality photo" error. Subsequent attempts over the year showed similar ineffective outcomes, with the majority of requests targeting Black individuals yielding no matches.
While no wrongful arrests were made, the system’s utilization seemingly upheld long-standing civil rights concerns, amplifying systemic biases within law enforcement rather than rectifying them. Council member JP Morrell, who opposed the technology's use, condemned its inefficacy and apparent racial bias.
Despite these revelations, a majority of New Orleans City Council members, the police force, Mayor LaToya Cantrell, and local businesses continue to support facial recognition. However, the data displayed the technology's limitations, raising questions about its efficacy and ethical implications.
Moreover, despite attempts in various states like Michigan and at the federal level to regulate facial recognition's use, no comprehensive laws have been enacted. The reports from New Orleans highlighted the technology's shortcomings, indicating that it predominantly targeted Black individuals, creating further concerns about systemic biases within law enforcement.
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