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Davis, California

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Police Accountability Commission discusses potential ban of facial recognition

The city of Davis commission made recommendations at a recent meeting 


By HANNAH SCHRADER city@theaggie.org


On April 1, during a city of Davis Police Accountability Commission meeting, the facial recognition subcommittee proposed information and their recommendations regarding a ban on this software to the commission. 

The facial recognition subcommittee is composed of Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald, Dillan Horton and John Meyer. Commissioner Horton opened the discussion of this agenda item by giving a brief overview of the commission’s current position on the use of facial recognition technology.

“Myself, Commissioner Escamilla-Greenwald and Commissioner Meyers [had a meeting on] March 22 to discuss the virtues of pursuing a ban on the use of such technology [facial recognition] by the city of Davis government, particularly the Davis Police department,” Horton said. 

Horton then commented on why he and Escamilla-Greenwald supported the recommendation for a full ban on the Davis police department’s use of facial recognition technology.

“Myself and Commissioner Escamilla-Greenwald remain convinced that the reliability concerns with this technology present too great a risk to the fair pursuit of justice in our community,” Horton said. “If the technology is only reliable for cis-gendered heterosexual white men, then it simply isn’t fit for law enforcement use. It’s perhaps this wide array of reliability concerns for people of color, women and gender non-conforming individuals that has led the Davis police department never to request this technology from the Davis city council.”

Horton then noted how this technology could be harmful to the Davis community at large.

“The fact that we as a city have never used this technology puts us in a perfect position to protect the integrity of our policing, bring our community’s values into legislation and ban the use of this harmful and discriminatory technology for the city of Davis,” Horton said.

Escamilla-Greenwald then spoke about her fervent opposition to implementing potentially discriminatory facial recognition technology in any capacity.

“So when we’re talking about misidentification or finding children that have [been] kidnapped, stolen, robbed, we’re also talking about children of color being misidentified and taken in,” Escamilla-Greenwald said. “And I can’t live with that. I cannot live with supporting technology that is going to be biased against people of color.”

Meyer then discussed the aspects of Horton and Escamilla-Greenwald’s position and shared that he feels it’s worth looking at the pros and cons.

“It is clear that when we balance the pros and cons of this, which is the correct way to do it, there is plenty of evidence that facial recognition technology is used all the time to solve serious crimes,” Meyer said.

Meyer then talked about his biggest problem with the proposed full facial recognition technology ban.

“To me, what bothers me the most is that you’re completely with this proposal cutting off the ability of the Davis police department to use any lead generated by any agency: federal, state or local, from protecting children, protecting victims of serious crimes,” Meyer said.

Horton then responded to Meyers’s concerns, stating that he had failed to address the discriminatory problems in his grievances with the recommendation.

“There’s very clearly a discrimination concern here that […] just speaking for myself and Commissioner Escamilla-Greenwald, is a high concern, and I really didn’t see any effort to kind of mitigate that in the response from Commissioner Meyer on this particular topic,” Horton said.


Written by: Hannah Schrader — city@theaggie.org



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