After Third Wrongful Arrest, ACLU Slams Detroit Police Department for Continuing to Use Faulty Facial Recognition Technology

Affiliate: ACLU of Michigan
August 6, 2023 12:00 pm

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DETROIT —According to a new lawsuit, the Detroit Police Department has wrongly arrested yet another person based on a faulty facial recognition match. Porcha Woodruff, who was eight months pregnant at the time, is the sixth person to report being falsely accused of a crime as a result of facial recognition technology used by police to attempt to match an unknown suspect’s face to a photo in a database. All six people have been Black and Ms. Woodruff is the first woman to report it happening to her.

This is the third known allegation of a wrongful arrest by the Detroit Police Department based on reliance on a false facial recognition match in three years. The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Michigan, and the University of Michigan Law School’s Civil Rights Litigation Initiative (CRLI) represent Robert Williams in his lawsuit against the same department for wrongfully arresting and jailing him in January 2020 based on faulty facial recognition technology. Mr. Williams’ case is ongoing, with legal briefing set for this fall.

“It’s deeply concerning that the Detroit Police Department knows the devastating consequences of using flawed facial recognition technology as the basis for someone’s arrest and continues to rely on it anyway,” said Phil Mayor, senior staff attorney at ACLU of Michigan. “As Ms. Woodruff’s horrifying experience illustrates, the Department’s use of this technology must end. Furthermore, the DPD continues to hide its abuses of this technology, forcing people whose rights have been violated to expose its wrongdoing case by case. DPD should not be permitted to avoid transparency and hide its own misconduct from public view at the same time it continues to subject Detroiters to dragnet surveillance.”

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