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Cobb Police now able to use new facial recognition technology


Cobb County Police have been given the green light to begin using facial recognition software in the county. After watching sci-fi movies toy around with the capability, Cobb will be using this new technology to solve crimes within the county.

Cobb Police recently signed a new contract with software company Clearview AI that offers an artificial intelligence that will allow them to recognize and match faces to public images harvested from the internet.

Members of the Cobb Police Department held a meeting with the public recently to discuss the use of this new tool and answer questions and concerns from the community during a District 3 town hall meeting at the Tim Lee Senior Center.

During the meeting, Cobb Police Chief Stuart VanHoozer addressed attendees saying, “Some people have concerns about Big Brother. We care about our citizens. We love our community. We are very aware of our constitutional rights. Nobody wants to live in a police state. I feel we have no choice but to embrace technology, and look at how other agencies are doing and how they do it. We are not the first.”

Emphasizing the importance of this new step by the department, VanHoozer said “We’re trying to catch killers,” as he assured the group that the technology is secure and would only be used by law enforcement in a limited capacity, likening it to receiving an anonymous tip.

Cobb Police Capt. Darin Hull of the Violent Crime Bureau assured the attendees that the department would use the technology in a safe, secure manner to rapidly apprehend suspects, that the technology would not be abused, and that “guardrails” would be in place.

Some in the Cobb County community have raised concerns regarding privacy and living in a surveillance state while others question the accuracy of the facial recognition software, saying many people have been misidentified, including those from the Black and Brown community. Others wanted to know how the information gathered during the time of the contract will be treated once Clearview AI’s three-year contract ends.

Wanting to make sure her information would not be sold or used by the company at a later date, one resident asked “What happens after?” Hull told the audience that there will always be new technology taking the place of the most recent as he pointed to the use of fingerprinting, which was once considered a new technology.

He attributed poor police work, rather than new technology, as the main concern when anyone points to misuse or misidentification when using facial recognition software.


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