Detroit police chief pushes back against Rashida Tlaib's suggestion to only hire black facial recognition analysts
Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Thursday that it was appalling for Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., to suggest that only black people should be hired as facial recognition analysts.
Tlaib's suggestion came Monday during a tour of the Detroit Police Department's Real Time Crime Center, where the department uses facial recognition technology to locate suspects. Craig was showing Tlaib how the software works, and how analysts use it to identify and locate individuals. The department had extended the invitation to Tlaib after she tweeted them, calling facial recognition technology "bulls---."
"Analysts need to be African-Americans, not people that are not," Tlaib said. "It's true, I think non-African-Americans think African-Americans all look the same!"
The "Squad" member cited instances where she witnessed people confuse Reps. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Elijah Cummings, D-Md.
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Tlaib also claimed that "the error rate among African-Americans, especially women," was 60 percent.
In an appearance on "Fox & Friends: First" with co-hosts Jillian Mele and Rob Schmitt, Craig refuted the freshman congresswoman's claims.
"It's a software. It's biometrics," he said. "And, to put race in it ... we're talking about trained professionals. My staff goes through intense training with the FBI, and so they're not looking at race but it's measurements. We were appalled when she made this statement," the police chief said.
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"We even put her in the seat of an analyst so she could understand how it works!" Craig exclaimed. "And, she was somewhat resistant. Not really interested. But, it was important for me to invite her in after she made her initial comments. So, at least she could learn something about how we use it and maybe have a great appreciation for it."
The tour was recorded and posted by a reporter with The Detroit News.
The Detroit News reporter followed up Tlaib's assertion that only black people should be hired to use the software, asking: "Are you saying white people are not qualified to--?"
And Tlaib cut him off: "No, I think there's actually been studies out that it's hard for, you know, like African-Americans would identify African-Americans, similar, Latino same thing."
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"This is a double standard," Craig told Mele and Schmitt. "If I had made the exact same comment, they would've been calling for my resignation and she would have been leading that charge. That's a fact."
"We know [there are] flaws in the technology. We've addressed that through the rigorous system that we have in place. So, we have a modeled approach on how we use this technology very effectively," he said.