MN State Patrol Adopt Body Cams; Facial Recognition Tech Raises Concerns


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The Minnesota State Patrol is rolling out body cameras for troopers. Meanwhile, legislators are concerned about the acquisition and use of facial recognition technology by government entities.


Feven Gerezgiher reports:

Last week, the Minnesota State Patrol announced the rollout of body cameras for 40 troopers. The entire force will be equipped with body cameras by June 2022.

At a press conference Thursday, Colonel Matt Langer explained troopers will be required to turn on body cameras when interacting with the public in an enforcement capacity.

“The body worn cameras give us an opportunity to have an undeniable record of what occurred roadside to augment what happens with squad video systems,” said Langer.

Cameras will automatically turn on when troopers pull out a gun or taser.

Journalists and activists are suing the Minnesota State Patrol for using excessive force in response to protests. Langer says he welcomes the body cam footage as a way to hold everyone accountable.

“Without a doubt, I wish that we had body-worn cameras to deploy during all of our civil unrest deployments over the past couple of years,” he said. “It leaves little to question about who did what, who said what, who’s at fault.”

In other news, a legislative commission is exploring a statewide ban on the acquisition and use of facial recognition technology by government entities.

At a hearing last week, Rep. Aisha Gomez said legislation is needed to protect people’s privacy.

“The concerns around mass surveillance in public, around the expansion of the government's ability to surveil its citizens is a bipartisan issue,” she said. “Indiscriminate monitoring constitutes interfering with our right to privacy, with our freedom of expression, with our freedom to protest.”

ACLU Minnesota’s Munira Mohamed testified that a test of facial recognition software produced false matches for everyone besides adult white men. She cited one instance in which it misidentified a black congressman as a felon on the run.

An analyst with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s office said the technology is a helpful tool in developing leads in criminal cases and identifying child sex trafficking victims.

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