The city has banned police from using facial recognition software and several other types of surveillance technology, requiring officers to issue summonses for a wide range of minor offenses rather than make arrests.
(TNS) — The New Orleans City Council has banned police from using facial recognition software and several other types of surveillance technology, and required officers to issue municipal summonses for a wide range of minor offenses rather than make arrests.
Both measures were pushed by council member
The council voted 6-1 Thursday to forbid facial recognition, with council member
The ban on police use of facial recognition software has been a particularly heated topic after the
"If the error rate is higher for a certain group of people, then it's not just," Williams said. "It's not the same tool as tools that are well-founded in science, which is why I'm pushing for some controls to be put in place on the tools that are being used on citizens in the community."
The new law does not only bar the use of facial recognition technology. It also forbids:
— The use of devices that imitate mobile phone towers to intercept signals
— Use of software that identifies people based on other characteristics such as their walk
— Using technology that aims to predict criminal behavior.
However, it does let officers use evidence gained by outside individuals or agencies from any of those technologies as long as no one from the
"Today's vote is a victory for all New Orleanians, who have been subjected to wasteful and ineffective mass surveillance technologies for far too long,"
The council also approved restrictions on the use of arrests, rather than a summons to appear in court, for a range of nonviolent offenses. Activists and council members have promoted such a policy to prevent unnecessarily locking people up, particularly when there is concern about the spread of the coronavirus in jails.
The ordinance bars officers from making arrests for misdemeanors except in cases:
— Involving domestic violence or illegally carrying a weapon
— Where the suspect is a habitual offender or appears to present an imminent threat
— Where it is impossible to ascertain the person's identity.
Officers may also make an arrest for other reasons if they have their supervisor's approval.
The ordinance also requires officers to use municipal offenses, rather than
"This is a major win for reform, dollars and cents efficiency and, quite frankly, for public health," said
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