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facial recognition software

How Facial Recognition Technology Is Helping Law Enforcement

Facial recognition and biometric technology is being applied more often in different environments. For example, Facebook makes it easier for you to tag your friends in photos by using facial recognition technology. Some smartphones even allow you to use a fingerprint password to unlock your phone. Aside from these examples, facial recognition technology is also being used within some law enforcement agencies.

San Diego Law Enforcement has been using facial recognition technology since 2013, when it began as a research and development project funded by the National Institute of Justice. The Tactical Identification System (TACIDS) was comprised of 134 devices distributed among 67 certified law enforcement personnel. Today, it’s up to 433 devices among 991 personnel.

These devices are usually tablets or smartphones that have access to the Automated Regional Justice Information System (ARJIS) App. If an officer feels that an individual is being dishonest about his identity, or if the officer would like to determine whether or not the individual is a threat, he or she would use the device to take a photo. This photo is then sent to ARJIS’ Facial Recognition Platform (FRP) via text. The FRP produces a lineup of possible matches based on a biometric algorithm and sends it to the officer. The officer reviews the lineup, selects a match, and resubmits it to the ARJIS web server to pull the individual’s records. This process normally takes days, but can be accessed within minutes thanks to this advanced system.

Concerns have been raised by citizens, mainly focused on consent for photos and privacy issues. However, if any officer suspects an individual of being involved in a crime, he does not need to ask for consent. Also, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) assures that the photos that are submitted to the ARJIS FRP are not stored anywhere. Any of the photos taken on the devices must be deleted, whether or not a match was found. Furthermore, the photos are only compared to the sheriff’s department booking database, so if a person has not been booked at a county jail, then a match will not be found. SANDAG confirmed that ARJIS only has access to images of individuals arrested in San Diego County.

While this technology is mainly used by the San Diego Police Department, every law enforcement agency in San Diego has access to it. This includes the San Diego Unified School District, San Diego State University, and UC San Diego.

The main purpose of this tool is to improve policing techniques while better serving and protecting the people. What are your thoughts on the use of this technology by law enforcement? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. You can also connect with us on Vine and Pinterest.

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