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Those opposed to facial recognition technology bring fight to state government

Craig says there are no plans to use tech for real-time surveillance

Police use of facial recognition technology has been a hot topic in Detroit.

Dozens of people gathered to voice opposition to the controversial technology as the Detroit Police Department pushes for its expansion.

The Detroit Police Commission is looking over revisions to the use of facial recognition, changes made by Police Chief James Craig. Some people opposed to the technology are taking their fight to the state government.

Craig is adamant that there are no plans for the department to use the technology for real-time surveillance.


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"The bottom line is they've had this technology for a year and they've been using it unchecked, so we shouldn't, as a community, be expected to just trust him," Rodd Monts, with the American Civil Liberties Union, said.

Craig has spent the last three months offering tours of the Real Crime Center. He's trying to convince the police commissioners and the community that the technology is an effective crime-fighting tool when used properly.

"I'm absolutely confident the way we use this technology is the way it should be used," Craig said.

If the commissioners support the expansion, there's a new push to override the decision.

"My bill is a five-year moratorium. It says, 'Let's have a pause so we can have a debate and discussion,'" Michigan Rep. Isaac Robinson said.

Robinson said he believes there's bipartisan support for House Bill 48-10.

"We don't need Big Brother watching our every move," Robinson said.

As the commission ponders whether to move forward or not, the debate goes beyond the 313 area code.

"We'd love it if the chief wanted to come by and hear the voice of the people, which are saying clearly, 'Shut it down,'" Tom Choske, who opposes facial recognition, said.


About the Authors:

Kayla Clarke

Kayla is a web producer with an English degree from Michigan State University. Before joining the ClickOnDetroit team in 2018, she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.