By Jack Burns
Imagine a day when police can randomly, actively, and at lightning speeds search databases for active search warrants using only a camera and facial recognition technology. That day is here. And despite the objections of high-ranking members in policing circles, the very real threat of losing our 4th and 14th Amendment rights is upon us. And, as the following case illustrates, those who speak out against it — even from within the system — are subject to being silenced.
A Detroit police commissioner was arrested this week for disorderly conduct during a commissioner’s meeting in which several dozen protesters were present to voice their opposition to police using facial recognition technology.
“Don’t touch me! Don’t touch me! Get your hands off me!” Cried Commissioner Willie Burton as police officers removed him from the Durfee Information Center. Burton was taken out of the meeting, placed into a squad car, and taken to jail.
Burton was taken into custody after repeatedly questioning board chairwoman Lisa Carter about what she would do differently in her new term as board chairperson. Carter found Burton to be “out of order” and asked police to remove him.
On Wednesday, Detroit Police Chief James Craig defended his officers’ arrest of Burton saying:
The arrest was legal, and I’m not criticizing my officers…But after weighing the totality of the circumstances, I thought it best to drop the charges, in order to maintain a harmonious relationship with the board and the people who elected (Burton).
Carter also weighed in on Burton’s arrest, denying she knew he had been arrested and encouraging decorum in future meetings. She said:
The board did not want him arrested in the first place…Hopefully in the future, we can all understand there’s a time when people can talk during meetings, and that we need decorum, so that we can have orderly meetings. That’s my only goal.
According to the Detroit News, “tensions are running high” as the police commissioner board is seeking to approve or ban the controversial use of facial recognition technology which allows for any citizen’s facial imagery to be used to solve crimes.