(TNS) — Black Democrats in the Michigan House called Wednesday for a ban on the use of facial recognition technology, saying it tends to misidentify people of color. The proposed ban is part of a package of police reform bills proposed by Detroit Democrats and the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus.
It goes beyond police reform measures recently called for by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel, both Democrats, and flies in the face of a recent pledge by another prominent Democrat, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, to continue using the technology as a crime-fighting tool.
The state representatives called for the ban following a recent incident in which a Black Farmington Hills man was arrested by Detroit Police and held for about 30 hours after he was falsely identified in a retail theft case by facial recognition technology.
Studies have shown the technology is more prone to misidentify people of color than white people. "The bias of facial recognition is evident and documented," state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, D-Detroit, said at a news conference. "This is a perfect example of why I call for defunding the police as we know it," Gay-Dagnogo said. "I call for the abolishment of it as it unfairly targets and allows African Americans to be profiled," and "it's a waste of money."
Other measures in the package would:
- Establish crisis intervention teams of social workers and mental health specialists to answer certain distress calls, instead of police.
- Provide incentives for police officers to live in the communities they serve.
- Expand the definition of hate crimes to include people who make false 911 calls based on race, color, nationality and sexual orientation, and provide for survivors of such incidents to seek civil damages.
- Provide for the establishment of police citizen review boards in each community.
- Require that all disciplinary records remain in police personnel files and make those records public.
- Establish standardized use of force guidelines and consequences for violations.
- Expand the definition of excessive force to include verbal, psychological and physical force and threats.
- Prohibit chokeholds or any restraint that puts pressure on someone's neck.
- Prohibit no-knock warrants.
- Create an independent entity to investigate and prosecute excessive force cases.
- Eliminate qualified immunity from civil liability when officers use unreasonable force.
Many of the measures mirror those called for recently by Whitmer and Nessel, but the ban on using facial recognition technology goes further.
State Rep. Tyrone Carter, D-Detroit, who served with the Wayne County Sheriff's Office and retired with the rank of executive lieutenant, said he does not think facial recognition technology should necessarily be scrapped entirely, but he said it should not be used in its present form.
"Put this tool back in the tool box, until you work out the bugs," Carter said.
Gay-Dagnogo said she and other House Democrats have had conversations with House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, and the Republican caucus, about the package of bills, where they were "well received."
Getting legislation passed "will take compromise and more conversations," and Chatfield has committed to that, she said.
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