Many of California’s local law enforcement agencies have access to facial recognition software for identifying suspects who appear in crime scene footage, documents obtained through public records requests show. Three California counties also have the capability to run facial recognition searches on each others’ mug shot databases, and others could join if they choose to opt into a network maintained by a private law enforcement software company.
The network is called California Facial Recognition Interconnect, and it’s a service offered by DataWorks Plus, a Greenville, South Carolina–based company with law enforcement contracts in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, and Santa Barbara.
Currently, the three adjacent counties of Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino are able to run facial recognition against mug shots in each other’s databases. That means these police departments have access to about 11.7 million mug shots of people who have previously been arrested, a majority of which come from the Los Angeles system.
Sacramento, Santa Barbara, and San Francisco also use the service, bringing the total number of mug shots in DataWorks Plus’ California system to 15 million, according to an email sent to the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department from Todd Pastorini, executive vice president and general manager of DataWorks Plus. Though the public records request returned emails suggesting these three cities would be added to the sharing network, DataWorks Plus now tells OneZero that they’re not connected, meaning other cities cannot access their images, and vice versa.
DataWorks Plus’ Interconnect network puts the company in a powerful position in the nation’s largest state. If police or sheriff’s departments invest in DataWorks Plus’ facial recognition system over a competitor’s, they could opt into having access to data from other cities around the state as well. Each contract is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars: When San Bernardino first bought DataWorks Plus’ technology in 2012, it financed the purchase through a $332,520 grant from the Department of Justice. The city renewed and upgraded its technology in July 2018 for $222,300.
But DataWorks Plus is also operating far beyond California. In 2017, it made a proposal to the Detroit police that listed 27 local, state, and federal agencies using the company’s facial recognition services, and company representatives call DataWorksPlus the number one provider of facial recognition on the West Coast. The Detroit proposal references Los Angeles’ adoption of the technology — by far the biggest in California — and boasts that the LAPD can search 7 million facial templates in less than 15 seconds……Read More>>