How Volusia County Sheriff’s Office will --and won’t-- use facial recognition AI

Technology can only be used if there is a crime first, Sheriff Chitwood says

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – A cutting-edge facial recognition tool called Clearview AI will help law enforcement officers get one step closer to making arrests, according to Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood.

The sheriff’s office invested $10,000 for one year to see if the program is worth it long-term. Chitwood said six analysts at the real-time crime center are the only ones with access to this technology.

Chitwood explained when and how the software will be used in the field.

“There has to be a criminal predicate. A crime had to occur and now we’re trying to find out who did it," Chitwood said. "This company is able, with technology, to scrub against all social media, any type of thing that’s out in the public venue.

[RELATED: Grill thief arrested after photo ran through facial recognition software, police say]

The analysts take the surveillance video or pictures of the suspect and through the program, they scan the World Wide Web for an identity match.

“If we get that information, detectives have to do old fashion police work to follow up," Chitwood said. “It’s no different than when we get a Crime Stoppers tip.”

The sheriff also explained what investigators will not be doing with the technology.

"We are not, and I repeat, we are not scanning faces at the (Daytona) 500 or the mall or people walking down the street,” Chitwood said.

The sheriff said the software does not search any private or protected information including social media accounts that are set to private. Already, he said, it has generated 30 leads and helped make four arrests.

The program also helps identify child sex abuse victims.

“There is technology out there that can help keep us safer, as long as it’s used responsibly by responsible people within the guidelines and the framework of the law, I don’t see any issue with it."

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