Springfield City Council proposing to ban police usage of facial recognition technology

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Springfield City Council wants to ban facial recognition technology, in anticipation of the city’s police department using body cameras.

The Springfield City Council is concerned that this technology interferes with residents’ privacy, but Mayor Domenic Sarno thinks it should be an option for police.

Springfield City Councilors Orlando Ramos and Adam Gomez are proposing the new ordinance that would restrict the use of facial recognition technology.

Councilor Ramos said facial recognition technology has been shown to be ineffective at identifying people of color.

“A study by MIT was done that concluded black women were 37 percent more likely to misidentified by facial recognition technology than white men,” Ramos explained to 22News. “If this technology proves to be more efficient in the future than we can revisit the conversation.”

But Mayor Sarno believes the technology would be a valuable tool for the police department.

Sarno said, “If this can take a repeat violent criminal offender off our streets and our neighborhoods, why not utilize it for our police department? As has Orlando, New York, and Detroit.”

The Springfield Police Department is testing out body cameras from four companies, and plan to begin using them by the end of the year.

City Councilor Ramos hopes to have a final vote on the ordinance by the end of the year and he expects it to pass.

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