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Cobb County Government

Cobb Board of Commissioners debate and vote on facial recognition technology

After a lengthy debate, the Cobb Board of Commissioners approved a contract with Clearview AI to allow the police department to use facial recognition technology as a crime-fighting tool.  Commissioners and constituents had raised privacy concerns about using such technology. Still, Police Chief Stuart VanHoozer said his department would, by policy, use it on a restricted basis to help identify suspects and, in some cases, unidentified crime victims.  

“We are very careful in watching emerging technologies,” Chief VanHoozer told commissioners.  “We have been watching facial recognition for a while.  We govern ourselves with a very strict policy, so the concerns very validly raised today that we share as human beings and citizens of this county are very strongly mitigated.” 

“There was talk about people’s faces being recorded at this meeting today,” VanHoozer said.  “That is not what this product does.  There is no surveillance of anybody in the public associating their face with a certain location.  What this product does do is take a photograph of a known offender, and compare that to a database that is legally obtained and publicly available and identify that offender.”  

Chief VanHoozer says the technology has helped them identify homicide suspects and, in one case, helped identify a murder victim.  The board voted 5-0 to accept the contract.  Chief VanHoozer told the board the department is finalizing its policy that would spell out the limits of using this technology, and they will implement that policy before starting the contract.  

Before he became police chief, Stuart VanHoozer gave a presentation on police using technology.  This is a good overview of the policy and procedures that have been in place using this technology.  


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