If approved, local police would be able to use the tool to serve the community
DANVILLE, Va. – Governor Glenn Youngkin is amending a controversial bill that could lift a partial ban on facial recognition technology in Virginia.
The technology has been around for years, but local police haven’t been able to use it.
“As long as it’s used responsibly and within the guidelines of the law,” Danville Police’s Captain of Investigations David Whitely said. “It absolutely is one of those things that can help us serve our communities in a much more efficient way.”
From fingerprints to DNA to license plate readers, police use many different tools to keep the community safe. Now, they may get to add another notch in the belt.
“It would help us eliminate a lot of people,” Bedford County Sheriff Mike Miller said. “I would get us, hopefully, closer to our suspect. That would mean we’d be able to solve crimes quicker.”
If passed, local and campus police departments will once again be able to use facial recognition technology in certain circumstances.
The amendments direct Virginia State Police to guide by model policies, but they don’t require their involvement.
The bill sets accuracy standards, transparency requirements and penalties for misuse. It also lays out 12 examples of when the technology can be used, including criminal incidents and aiding in an AMBER alert.
Something local law enforcement say is a good thing.
“Just because it’s a facial recognition, we have other elements of the crime to prove,” Miller added. “The other pieces of the puzzle have to come together first.”
The goal is to have the technology work for them, not do the work for them.
Police add they have to protect people’s privacy within limits.
“It’s important to balance people’s right to privacy,” Whitely said. “There are going to be certain times when there is an expectation to privacy and there are going to be certain times that citizens are walking around in public. You have to understand that there is a limited expectation of privacy then.”
Authorities hope the community will trust them with this tool, just like the others they use each day.
The General Assembly will need to accept the changes in a session later this month.
Copyright 2022 by WSLS 10 – All rights reserved.