Tlaib Goes Toe to Toe with Detroit Police Department over ‘Facial Recognition Bulls**t’

Angry Rashida Tlaib Confronts Detroit Police
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) went toe to toe with the Detroit Police Department on Twitter Tuesday over the use of facial recognition technology, calling it “bulls**t.”

“@detroitpolice You should probably rethink this whole facial recognition bulls**t,” Tlaib tweeted Tuesday, linking to a Vice article detailing Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) exhaustive criminal justice reform plan, with an emphasis on his call to “ban the use of end facial recognition software for policing”:

The Detroit Police Department responded to Tlaib’s call with an invitation.

“Before you criticize the software, come to our Real Time Crime Center to see how we @detroitpolice responsibly use it in efforts to identify criminals involved in violent crimes,” the department’s official Twitter account wrote. “Let’s set a date”:

Tlaib accepted the invitation accompanied by a small request.

“I would ask that you please review the 2 @OversightDems hearings … on facial recognition & see the indisputable data that it’s flawed,” she wrote. “Residents are very concerned. I can share what I’ve found during the visit”:

Detroit Police Chief James Craig addressed Tlaib’s concerns and noted how the technology can help grieving families find justice.

“Nobody ever talks about the victims in these cases,” Craig said, according to the Detroit News. “I would offer a word of caution to the congresswoman about using that kind of language in referring to technology that gives these grieving family members closure.”

Tlaib spokesman Denzel McCampbell responded and said it is “disingenuous for Chief Craig to imply that Congresswoman Tlaib is not thinking about the victims of crime and their families.”

“Her criticism of facial recognition does not mean that,” McCampbell stated:

This is about ensuring that all communities are protected. Experts and researchers have found facial recognition technology to be deeply flawed with a high rate of misidentification, many residents have conveyed the same concerns to her.

Rep. Tlaib has participated in two congressional hearings in the House Oversight & Reform Committee about this technology and has done a lot of research on it. She remains deeply concerned about this controversial surveillance. We certainly will take Chief Craig up on his offer to visit a Real Time Crime Center and she looks forward to it.

Nonetheless, Craig says he looks forward to Tlaib’s visit:

I look forward to her visit, and will personally give her a tour. But I also urge her to talk to the families of homicide victims. I did talk to them on Saturday — it was a group of about 75-80 relatives of victims — and when I mentioned facial recognition technology, they cheered.

“I’m looking at using this technology on cold cases where there’s a good picture,” he continued. “It hasn’t been used that way yet, but why not?”

“The bottom line is, if this technology can help get a violent criminal off the streets sooner rather than later, that’s what we should be focusing on,” he added.

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