Oxford Police Department Provides Investigative Leads To FBI, Following The U.S. Capitol Attacks
Rapid Suspect Identification
Collaboration with the FBI
Reduced Amount of Misidentifications
AVOIDING MISIDENTIFICATIONS OF THE U.S. CAPITOL ATTACKERS
After the violent activity at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Washington, D.C. Field Office announced that it was “seeking information that will assist in identifying individuals” who committed violence on that day.
While seeking the public’s assistance was commendable, it also caused problems for the FBI, since many of the reports they received were based upon eyewitness identifications. According to the Innocence Project, eyewitness identifications are often inaccurate; “critical time is lost while police are distracted from the real perpetrator, focusing instead on building the case against an innocent person.”
SOLVING THE MISIDENTIFICATION PROBLEM
Facial recognition solutions based upon artificial intelligence can help law enforcement agencies to accurately identify criminals, helping avoid the inaccuracy of eyewitness misidentifications. Agencies can use the facial recognition results as investigative leads, and when supported by other evidence, they can accurately and rapidly identify suspects, persons of interest, and victims of crimes.
After hearing of the FBI’s request for assistance, Sgt. Jason Webb of the Oxford (Alabama) Police Department, who had successful results using Clearview AI, a facial recognition tool for law enforcement, decided to use it to try to identify the persons who had illegally entered the U.S. Capitol.
“Clearview AI is a powerful tool that can help eliminate the misidentification of innocent people, while saving agencies countless man hours and department resources.”
CLEARVIEW AI PROVIDES THE NECESSARY INVESTIGATIVE LEADS
Sgt. Webb searched some of the wanted suspect photos from the FBI, as well as other image information, against the images in the Clearview AI database, which contains over 3 billion photos derived from publicly available web sources. Some images matched against database images immediately, while some poor-quality images required enhancement before they would match. For the matching images, Sgt. Webb only selected images that were associated with a name, an online profile, or other independent identifying information. According to the Wall Street Journal, Sgt. Webb “was able to develop… suspect leads, and forwarded those.”
While an FBI spokesperson did not comment about investigation techniques, Sgt. Webb’s methodology proved helpful in providing leads to identify participants without misidentifying innocent people. To date, the Department of Justice has charged over 200 people with Federal crimes, and the investigations continue.