Detroit Board of Police Commissioners meets amid facial recognition debate

DETROIT – Facial recognition technology is such a controversial topic it landed a Detroit police commissioner in handcuffs during a meeting last week.

Commissioner Willie Burton was arrested as Detroit police pushed to expand the use of facial recognition technology in the city. It's a tactic some people believe to be an invasion of privacy.

Police met at Detroit Police Department headquarters Thursday afternoon to discuss the issue, and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan also weighed in on the issue.

Detroit police Chief James Craig strongly supports facial recognition technology, but many in the community have voiced their opposition. They believe the technology violates privacy and could have adverse effects on minorities.

"I'm very concerned, not just with the misidentification potential, but also the use of it for immigration purposes," Commissioner Eva Garza Dewaelsche said.

Last week, the commissioners' meeting erupted in chaos when Burton kept pushing more discussion about the technology. Charges against him were later dropped.

On Thursday, Craig was still trying to convince the commission of how Detroit police will use the technology.

Duggan chimed in, as well, insisting the Detroit Police Department does not and will not use facial recognition technology to track or follow people in the city. But some commissioners are worried about those guarantees holding up under future administrations.

"My concern is what happens after you," Commissioner Jim Holley said. "How am I going to feel comfortable that a racist person doesn't come in?"

Residents packed the meeting, which also included time for public comments.

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