Equity commission recommends ban on some police surveillance technologies • Long Beach Post News

Equity commission recommends ban on some police surveillance technologies • Long Beach Post News

  • Technology
  • June 2, 2022
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  • 7 minutes read


In a draft letter released Tuesday, the Equity and Human Relations Commission said the technologies currently used by the Long Beach Police Department “pose significant civil liberties and racial justice issues” and were “largely deployed.” without any discussion on public policy “. The City Council should “ban its use”, according to the draft letter, which was addressed to Mayor Robert Garcia and the City Council and was largely drafted by the President of the Commission. Alyssa Gutiérrez.

“Although some cities have tried to reform the technology, it is the opinion of the [commission] that racist technology cannot be reformed, it must be banned altogether, “the draft states.

The committee largely approved the language of the draft letter on Wednesday 1 June, with some minor modifications and a major change to the language of the final recommendation, which called for a monitoring committee after half a dozen of members of the public expressed significant reservations about the effectiveness of this body. The commission’s recommendations carry no legal weight, but they could influence the Police Department to change its policies or the City Council to enact ordinances restricting surveillance.

The draft letter recommends that the city ban the use by the LBPD of automated license plate readers, facial recognition technology and other biometric technologies.

Specifically, the letter points to the use by the LBPD of the Los Angeles County Regional Identification System, known as LACRIS, which is a facial recognition system based on a countywide photo database. To use the system, which is run by the LA County Sheriff’s Department, LBPD researchers send an image of someone they are trying to identify and LACRIS compares it to the database of 9 million photographs, which critics point out it is disproportionately full of people. color.

Similarly, automated license plate readers give the LBPD the ability to create “an intimate and invasive record of residents’ daily activities, which allows the department” to target sensitive places such as immigration clinics, clinics The letter also states that the LBPD has shared registration data with certain divisions within the Customs Commission of Customs. Immigration since 2020.

The draft letter also calls on the city to “redirect” the $ 7.3 million it currently spends on surveillance to “investments that have been shown to prevent crime and promote safe communities,” such as development programs. youth, workforce training and access to stable and affordable housing.

The final recommendation of the letter, to establish a Community Monitoring Technology Monitoring Commission to establish rules on how to examine and monitor the use of surveillance technology in the future, was simplified, removing details of its proposed duties and a call for the community to help set up what meaningful and effective monitoring would be added.

The commission’s recommendations were based on public testimony, a presentation by the Just Futures Law immigrant rights group, as well as research and findings by the city’s Technology and Innovation Commission, which studied facial recognition technology. for more than a year, according to the letter. .

The Equity and Human Relations Commission began examining the issue of facial recognition technology in October after the city’s Technology and Innovation Commission asked it to review its research and recommendations through a ” lens of racial equity, “according to Gutiérrez’s draft letter.

Doing so requires focusing on the experiences and needs of those most affected by surveillance technologies, the draft letter says.

Because 72% of Long Beach’s population is made up of people of color, “an overwhelming majority of our residents have the potential to be adversely affected by the use of this technology,” the draft says.

In a testimony before City Hall last summer, LBPD chief Wally Hebeish said the department does not use facial recognition to conduct “mass surveillance”. The department’s policies only allow investigators to use LACRIS when trying to identify specific people while investigating a crime. LACRIS documents state that the database only “helps in the identification process” of the suspects.

While the technology has been used to prevent sex trafficking and locate missing persons, civil rights activists have noted that the “algorithmic bias” has led to false identifications and illegal detentions of people of color, the commission said. of Technology and Innovation at a meeting in July 2021.

That year, the ACLU called for a total ban on all federal government use of facial recognition technology. The civil rights organization said the technology was dangerous because it “disproportionately misidentifies and classifies people of color, trans people, women, and other marginalized groups” and allows “governments to track public movements, habits.” and the associations of all people, at all times. ”

The Long Beach Technology and Innovation Commission finally approved three recommendations in March, including a moratorium on the use of facial recognition technology and the creation of an independent “authority and oversight” commission on surveillance technology. . He also recommended that the city adopt a verification framework to monitor new forms of surveillance, but failed to call for an absolute ban. The commission has not yet formally forwarded its recommendations to the mayor and the city council, so it is not yet clear what effect they will have, if any, on policy makers.

Thirteen citizens spoke at Wednesday’s meeting. They all supported the call for the draft letter to ban the current and future use of surveillance technologies by the LBPD.

Long Beach resident Gaby Segovia, speaking Spanish, denounced the surveillance technology, saying “we don’t want that technology to exist,” according to the meeting’s translator.

Jamilet Ochoa of the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition thanked the commission for taking on the issue, saying that “this is what I call a step towards building trust.”

But Ochoa and others said they were opposed to any kind of oversight committee, so much so that current oversight bodies are rarely effective and may end up legitimizing the existence of surveillance technology.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include details of Wednesday’s meeting.

The technology commission is calling for a moratorium on the use of facial recognition technology by the city





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