LAPD Using Facial Recognition Devices

Creeping Big Brotherism

Los Angeles police are asking for federal funding to expand facial-recognition systems to help them identify people, it was reported today. "It's like a mobile electronic mug book," Capt. Charles Beck of the Rampart Station told the Los Angeles Times. "It's not a silver bullet, but we wouldn't use it unless it helped us make arrests." Jose Hernandez, an alleged 18th Street gang member, is one of 19 people recently arrested by officers using the gadgets on the mean streets just west of downtown, The Times reported. Officers Mark Hubert and David Nick recently stopped two young men on a bicycle on Alvarado Street to check them out -- doubling is illegal -- and senior lead Officer Mike Wang used a handheld facial-recognition device on the one who was pedaling. Ramona Ripston, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, is against letting police use the devices. "This is creeping Big Brotherism. ... There is a long history of government misusing information it gathers," she told the newspaper. Ripston said the devices might encourage racial profiling and lead officers to question any young people dressed in a certain way.

In the eight weeks that officers assigned to the Rampart Station have been testing the devices, they have used them about 25 times, resulting in 16 arrests for alleged criminal contempt of a gang injunction and three for felony warrants, The Times reported.


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Top Stories - December 28th, 2004


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