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Behind the Badge: Law Enforcement Insider's Journey & the Role in Shaping Facial Recognition Policy

By Clearview AI BLOG

Welcome to an exclusive interview with Robert Gomez, a former law enforcement officer from Florida. Notably, he is a devoted team member at Clearview AI, where his expertise plays a pivotal role in advancing facial recognition technology (FRT).


In this discussion, we explore Mr. Gomez's rich background in law enforcement and his instrumental role in spearheading the implementation of FRT policy within his department. Join us as we unravel the story of his experiences and delve into the transformative impact of Clearview AI, a technology celebrated for its high accuracy, contributing significantly to helping reduce crime.


What made you decide to go into Law Enforcement?

I always felt comfort in assisting people, more so people in need. I initially became a Firefighter and through my training, I was provided the opportunity to be employed as a ship-board fire patrolman onboard a well-known cruise line. It was extreme travel which brought me back to the states where the opportunity to join the police force came to be in 1999.


How did you first hear about Clearview AI? Did your Agency have specific people that used Clearview AI? (Crime Analysts, CID, etc)

I left uniform patrol in 2013 and joined our Detectives division within my agency. Facial recognition was not part of our investigative process and countless cases were closed or suspended because of the inability to identify a person of interest. The frustration of having to inform the victim of any crime their case could not be moved forward was very frustrating. In 2020, due to the advancement of technology and redirection of investigative law enforcement, our agency established the Real Time Operation Center (RTOC). I was assigned the supervisory role and led a team of four (4) Crime Analysts to become experienced users with Clearview AI.


Did your Agency have an internal policy in place for Facial Recognition Technology? Would you recommend that other Agencies do that as well?

Our agency established a set of standards of policies and procedures to the proper usage of facial recognition. The assurance that the agency had in place both rules and regulations to regulate its usage along the security measures already featured within the software reassured those skeptical of the myths tied to facial recognition. Our policies outlined the proper use of Clearview AI. I would highly recommend agencies implement policy on any type of investigative software used at their agency. Transparency is key to provide skeptics (internally and publicly) with knowledge of what a software can and cannot do.


What are the biggest hurdles your Agency faced when acquiring licenses for Clearview AI? What were they? How did you overcome the hurdles?

The process was rather simple once the “Proof of Value” was provided. The key to any investigation is #1, identify your subject or person of interest. Without that information the case will never proceed forward. At times those decision makers who do not choose to learn more about a software such as Clearview AI, make decisions based on myths and misinformation. This was our agency’s initial mindset when first hearing about Clearview AI. When we had a free trial of the software, the software proved its own worth within days. Cases that had image evidence were reopened due to the power of Clearview AI. The Command Staff received weekly reports on the cases that were initially closed but were now “Cleared by Arrest” with the leads provided by Clearview AI.


What would you tell other Agencies that are having a hard time getting permission to purchase Clearview AI?

At the very least, agencies that are having difficulty getting approval for the free trial should do more research to find out the underlying reasoning. Technology, Council and Police Agencies can be a tough bridge to gap at times. Misinformation or “old school” tendencies can sometimes get in the way of clear advantages that will overall benefit an agency, its investigators and most of all the community.


As a former user of the technology, what are your thoughts on the value of the technology?

It’s hard to place a value on a software that can keep you from closing a case due to the inability to identify a subject, to working on a lead provided by Clearview AI and through the investigative process you make an arrest. There is no greater satisfaction than providing closure to the victim of a crime. That’s what Clearview AI does, it allows for the opportunity to continue when all other doors have closed.


Can you provide any recommendations on how agencies can try to obtain Clearview AI if they don’t have the budget?

The budgetary process for police agencies has so many variations. Grant process has been extremely successful when procuring Clearview AI. I have known some to “rearrange” their expenses to see what they can and cannot do without. I recommended the release of some investigative software which was not being fully used by our investigators which released funds allowing us to procure Clearview AI.


What advice would you give Investigators or Analysts that are having a hard time getting results with the software?

Investigators and Analysts are going to benefit from Clearview AI. Probe images provide results in seconds. They may not get an investigative lead on every probe image but with the software’s “Alert” feature which notifies the user if a “New image” has been collected saves a lot of time. This allows Investigators and Analysts to focus on other investigative assignments rather than revisit images probed manually. Newly created Still Image Extraction from Video, allows the user to upload a video onto the software. While the video uploads, it captures and provides the user thumbnail images of all faces captured during upload. The user can then select which image(s) they wish to probe. This feature allows for the user to continue other assignments while Clearview AI does the still image extraction for you. Countless hours saved on manually attempting this procedure are now down to minutes.


Do you, as a former Police Officer, feel like there is a lot of miscommunication or lack of education out there that no longer applies to the new day of Facial Recognition Technology?

Miscommunication and the acceptance of new technology comes with its own cart of misinformation. I recall the response from Officers when patrol started using dash cams and subsequently body cams when they were introduced. We now see and realize the overall benefits for Officers as well as the public each one of those brings. It provides overall safety for Officers and transparency for the public.


Any other advice or messaging you would like to get out to the Law Enforcement Community as to how Clearview AI technology could assist them in their daily duties?

Because of our free trial, our agency was able to assess if Clearview AI should be part of our technology and investigative arsenal. At the end, however, each agency needs to recognize that the advancement of the criminal mind must be met with modern day technology which allows law enforcement agencies to maintain the upper hand. Clearview AI provides the possibility for investigative leads in seconds, thus countless hours of “knock and talks” in a community which no longer want to be involved or are anti-police can now be retracted to working at all hours of the day within safer confines. Criminals who are now driving from state to state to commit crimes knowing they will never be identified can no longer depend on this. With covid masks still widely accepted, business owners are experiencing criminals committing crimes openly. When using Clearview AI, you can still run those images if there is a clear enough picture, depending on the photo provided, the software can still detect enough data to get results.

Unidentifiable missing people, Human Trafficking victim, exoneration of the falsely accused. These are just a few of the areas Clearview AI has made an impactful difference. The upper hand must remain on the side of law enforcement. Clearview AI can assist your agency in doing this.

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