Police in Sacramento, California, are expanding their use of biometric identification technology. The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department will provide about 500 of its personnel with mobile facial recognition systems for use in the field.
The move comes after a pilot project using Vigilant Solutions’ FaceSearch system, which police say was used to make 35 successful identifications of criminals over the past year. And it reflects broader trends, with police in nearby San Diego also ramping up their use of biometric identification technologies over recent months.
While the technology offers obvious advantages to police officers, in a statement, SCSD Sergeant Kyle Hoertsch was keen to emphasize the restraints imposed on the technology’s use, asserting, “we are not comparing against non-criminal databases such as driver’s license photographs,” and pointing out that the system only presents officers with possible matches for review.
Hoertsch’s framing of the issue underscores the growing importance of balancing privacy rights against the enhanced policing powers enabled by biometric technology. And as police elsewhere in the world explore much more intrusive technologies, deployments like that of the SCSD’s use of Vigilant Solutions’ tech could offer an example of the right way to implement biometric policing.
May 20, 2016 – by Alex Perala