Want to take away another tool.
Madison alders aren’t finished with handcuffing the police. Progressive Dane alders propose ordinance #62413, which would ban facial recognition software, with some exceptions. Sponsors are Mad Max Prestigiacomo, Rebecca Kemble, Tag Evers (all PD), plus Arvina Martin.
Tuesday’s (12-01-2020) Common Council meeting, to be held on-line via zoom, starts at 6:30 p.m. but the ban is way down the agenda as item #76. Bonnie Roe of thePublic Safety Action Network explains:
The Madison Police Department is opposed to the over-reaching nature of this ban because of the deterrent it would be in fighting crime. Currently it uses this cutting-edge technology to locate and rescue child victims of sex traffic, child pornography, and other internet crimes against children.
The proposed ban does exempt compliance with the National Child Search Assistance Act. Bonnie Roe continues:
There are many other important ways this technology could be used, such as identifying deceased persons when other means are lacking, identifying mentally disabled people who are unable to identify themselves, and in the case of serious, felony-level crimes for which there is an identified suspect. The photo/video imagery is then provided to a third-party facial recognition software company to perform an appropriate scan using specific algorithms and relevant databases.
[A ban] would tie the hands of MPD at tracking down our most vulnerable victims and lose the ability to generate tips on confirmed suspects. For example, the case of Althea Bernstein, who had reported four white frat boys yelled a racial slur at her, poured lighter fluid on her and lit her face on fire. What if something had been captured on surveillance cameras at that intersection? It would be a hate crime. Would we not want to be able to add a facial recognition search to identify those suspects?
In the case of an active shooter, imminent threat, mass casualty event or other serious felonies, this technology could be vital.
Police Chief Victor Wahl and Sergeant Detective Julie Johnson discuss the facial recognition software here. It starts at 2:39:47 in the linked video.
Register in OPPOSITION to this proposal here.
UPDATE: Common Council 12-01-20 voted down an amendment sponsored by Ald. Zach Henak to add more exemptions to the facial recognition ban to find missing adults, identify dead people, and identify suspects in deadly felonies. That garnered only 5 votes: his and Alds. Carter, Harrington-McKinney, Skidmore, and Tierney. The ban then passed as originally proposed with only Skidmore and Henak opposed. Ald. Abbas was absent.