Law enforcement has a new tool in their crime fighting kit: facial recognition technology (FRT). Although it is unknown how many police departments use the FRT, it is a growing trend with some departments already using it without the public’s knowledge, sometimes to catch people in the crowd who may have outstanding warrants.
While some see the use of facial recognition technology as turning the U.S. into a surveillance state, those policing the streets see it as a powerful tool to catch criminals on cases that might otherwise grow cold. At a time when everyone whips out a phone to capture the moment and exchange photos on social platforms with people known and unknown, the police have a virtual smorgasbord of photos and videos to choose from to run through the facial recognition database when trying to solve a crime.
Take the case of a 15-year-old sexual assault victim in New York – photos exchanged with an unknown perpetrator online came up with a hit when investigators had no other leads. In another case, a bystander videotaping an argument between a friend and an unknown man who pulled out a gun provided police just the footage they needed to get an ID using facial recognition technology.
Although some police departments say possible matches using facial recognition technology does not constitute an identification or probable cause for arrest, and, that they never make an arrest based solely on the technology, the potential for abuse is huge. The minute someone gets noticed by law enforcement, marks the beginning of someone’s troubles regardless of whether they played a role in the crime at hand.
Because there are few national guidelines on using facial recognition technology, it really represents the wild west in law enforcement tools. Because of the potential for wide scale civil liberty abuses, any legal action that depends on evidence derived from FRT may not hold up in court.
It goes without saying that if you or a family member become a person of interest or are questioned by police in a criminal matter, no matter what evidence law enforcement may claim to have, it is critical to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you have been arrested, or have been questioned as part of a criminal investigation, get help now. Contact the Waukesha criminal defense lawyers at Andrew C. Ladd for immediate assistance at 262-542-3900.