PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As more people call for police reform across the country and here in Pittsburgh, facial recognition technology is under the microscope.
Pittsburgh Councilman Corey O’Connor is introducing a bill that will ban the unrestricted use of facial recognition and predictive policing technology in the city. O’Connor says this technology has harmed more people than it has helped.
“These are things we are seeing — a trend across the country that the technology is not up to speed enough and people are getting arrested that should not be,” said O’Connor.
A spokesperson with Pittsburgh Public Safety said Pittsburgh Police don’t own the technology and city cameras aren’t equipped with or linked up to it. However, if that should change in the future, O’Connor said he wants to be prepared.
“The studies we’ve researched show it’s prone to harm a number of people, especially people of color,” said O’Connor.
It is a tool that is available for use by law enforcement through the state-run website JNET. Public safety said it’s primarily used as an investigative tool only and the results of a search are considered investigative leads and not to be considered a positive ID of any subject. O’Connor said he’s also seeing if that can be banned.
As for predictive policing technology, O’Connor said Pittsburgh Police don’t use that either.
“You use crime data and you use mathematics to basically say where to put police. It’s not fair and because you want to have some common sense in process,” said O’Connor.
This legislation is among many bills council says they plan on introducing to reform the police department as Black Lives Matter protests asking for change are being held frequently across the city.
Under O’Connor’s legislation, council approval would be needed to use facial recognition technology.
We cannot hope to make our City a better place unless we are willing to do the hard work of internalizing pleas for change and committing ourselves to working together to instill and demand more accountability.
— Corey O'Connor (@CoreyOConnorPGH) August 20, 2020
O’Connor tweeted that “we can’t make the City of Pittsburgh a better place unless we are willing to do the hard work of internalizing pleas for change and committing ourselves to working together to instill and demand more accountability.”
He went on to say that “accomplishing this will not be easy, comfortable or quick, but I won’t be deterred and I know you will not be either.”
O’Connor said an open discussion about his legislation will take place next Wednesday, Sept. 2 at 10 a.m. and will be open to the public.