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Indiana Police Officer Resigns After Audit Finds He Used Facial Recognition Scans To Preform Non-Work-Related Searches

winepressnews.com

by Jacob M. Thompson

 

An Evansville Police Department officer resigned earlier this month after an audit showed he used Clearview AI facial recognition technology for “personal purposes” over a span of months, Chief of Police Phil Smith disclosed during a news conference Tuesday.

The following report is by Courier & Press:

Smith told reporters that the officer, Michael Eric Dockery, had used the powerful software suite in ways that violated Clearview AI’s terms of service, an outcome that some privacy advocates have long pointed to as a potential risk for departments that adopt the technology.

Dockery, a nearly 5-year veteran of the department, resigned on June 5 after Smith placed him on a 21-day unpaid suspension, according to a Police Merit Commission meeting agenda. Smith said he recommended that Dockery be fired, but Dockery resigned before the merit commission could take such a step.

The revelation that an officer had misused facial recognition software pushed the department to institute new safeguards against abuses, Smith said, including the introduction of mandatory, quarterly audits. The incident involving Dockery was “not a criminal matter,” according to Smith.

The Courier & Press first published a report about the EPD’s use of Clearview AI tools last year after the newspaper reviewed police records and company documents. At the time, public officials outside the department said they knew little about how the technology was used.

The EPD has maintained that the software is a highly effective investigative tool and that its officers and detectives use it responsibly.

Clearview AI, a New York-based technology company, operates one of the most powerful facial recognition suites in the world and has obtained billions of what it has called “face print” images from social media sites, mugshot repositories and even payment transaction applications.

Law enforcement agencies who purchase the software can compare images obtained during investigations with Clearview AI’s database without the need to obtain a warrant. Exactly who Dockery searched and why was not immediately clear.

Last year, the Courier & Press reported that EPD detectives have cited Clearview AI results in court records when they sought a person’s arrest, a practice that had gone largely unpublicized and that has drawn criticism from some legal and privacy advocates.

Reading from a prepared statement on Tuesday, Smith said Dockery’s improper use of Clearview AI software first hit the department’s radar in March…

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