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Detroit Police Limiting Facial Recognition Use After Lawsuit

After a Detroit woman who was eight months pregnant said she was wrongly charged with robbery and carjacking in a case involving facial-recognition technology, the Detroit police chief is setting new policies on the use of the technology. The case was dismissed by prosecutors, the Associated Press reports. The technology, which was used on images taken from gas station video, produced leads in the case but was followed by “very poor” police work, Chief James White said. He spoke two days after the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan urged Detroit police to stop using the technology. The city was sued by Porcha Woodruff, a 32-year-old Black woman, who was arrested in February while trying to get children ready for school. There have been two similar lawsuits against Detroit.


Woodruff was identified as a suspect in a January robbery and carjacking through facial-recognition technology. She denied any role. The Wayne County prosecutor’s office dropped charges because the victim did not appear in court. White said his officers will not be allowed “to use facial-recognition-derived images in a photographic lineup. Period.” New policies will be presented to the Detroit Police Board of Commissioners. Critics say the technology results in a higher rate of misidentification of people of color. Woodruff’s lawsuit says facial recognition identified her, although the victim had never described the carjacker as visibly pregnant. She spent hours in jail after her arrest.

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