NewsDetroit police abandon facial recognition after wrongful arrest

Detroit police abandon facial recognition after wrongful arrest

Innocent people were being arrested. An artificial intelligence was to blame. Scandal in the USA.
Innocent people were being arrested. An artificial intelligence was to blame. Scandal in the USA.
Images source: © Getty Images | Ralph Hoppe
Anna Wajs-Wiejacka

3 July 2024 21:42

Artificial intelligence was meant to aid in catching criminals. However, after the facial recognition system led to another wrongful arrest of an innocent person in Detroit, the authorities decided to abandon such solutions.

The Detroit Police Department announced that the facial recognition system will no longer be the sole basis for arrests. According to reports, this decision is related to an agreement made with a wrongfully arrested man in 2020. Robert Williams spent 2 hours behind bars after an algorithm incorrectly identified him as a shoplifter.

Williams was detained 15 months after the theft of luxury watches. The incident was recorded by surveillance cameras. A blurry recording from the day of the theft was analysed by the police system, and it identified 243 people, including Williams. An old driver’s licence photo of Williams was ninth on the list, and the person conducting the investigation chose him as the suspect.

In a lineup with several others, a photo of Robert Williams was presented to the store security worker where the theft occurred. After confirming that Williams could have committed the theft, an arrest warrant was issued for him.

The man was detained and sent to jail. He spent a total of 2 hours there. His fingerprints and genetic material samples were taken. Williams' defenders quickly proved that their client was innocent. At the time of the theft, he was at work.

The case against Robert Williams was eventually dismissed. He was also awarded $405,000 in compensation from the police. Additionally, the settlement required Detroit officers to stop using facial recognition as the basis for arrests.

Williams' case is not the only one. There were more similar mistake

The described case is not the only one in which an innocent person was wrongfully detained. A resident of New Jersey sued the police in Woodbridge for unlawful arrest. Here, too, there was incorrect facial recognition by artificial intelligence.

The man was jailed in 2019 on suspicion of theft and drug possession. He spent 10 days in the cell, including a week in solitary confinement. A case was also brought against local police by an Atlanta resident, whom artificial intelligence identified as a perpetrator of a crime he did not commit. He was arrested in 2022. He spent a week behind bars.

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