SBPD looking into technology upgrades including facial recognition

NOW: SBPD looking into technology upgrades including facial recognition

SOUTH BEND, Ind.-- Local law enforcement is looking to upgrade its technology with some direction from the public. Tuesday night in South Bend, a community action group (CAG) meeting was held to discuss policies for tech upgrades in the police department.

The public was invited to attend and give their input on the future of the South Bend Police Department.

SBPD is using American Rescue Plan dollars to upgrade its technology.

The department had two draft technology policies and one existing policy up for discussion Tuesday. 

One dealt with the public safety video system. This refers to video surveillance throughout the city in public areas.

The cameras that will be put up around the city will only record images and not audio. They will be used to deter criminal activity, to target areas with high complaints of gang or narcotics activity, to respond to incidents, identify offenders, and monitor traffic.

The city will hear from the public before moving ahead with this policy. The other draft policy involves facial recognition technology.

The draft claims to provide a balance between increasing public safety while still maintaining personal privacy.

The policy states any results from facial recognition technology should be considered an investigative lead—but does not establish probable cause without further investigation.

It will not be used for any kind of surveillance unless there is an imminent threat to public safety.

Any misuse could result in administrative or even criminal penalties.

The technology will be used under the supervision of the department’s operations division chief.

The existing policy put up for public scrutiny involves license plate readers. South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski said the department has been using license plate readers for about a decade.

The ARP funds may be used to install more license plate readers throughout the city.

At the CAG meeting, held at O’Brien Fitness Center in South Bend, community members and city leaders shared concerns over privacy issues, primarily about where all the video data collected will be stored and how it will be managed.

To read the policies and give input, click here

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