WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – A facial-recognition surveillance system that was going to scan crowds at Olympic hockey games now won't be turned on until after the 2002 Winter Games.
West Valley Police Chief Alan Kerstein said Friday a decision was made with the Salt Lake Organizing Committee and the city to hold off on the FaceTrac surveillance system at the E Center rink until Feb. 25, the day after the games end.
The Deseret News reported the development in a copyrighted story Saturday and said Kerstein would not give a reason for the decision.
Calls to SLOC were not immediately returned Saturday morning.
Crews from Pennsylvania-based Graphco Technologies Inc., or G-Tec, had been installing the cameras since November, and West Valley officers had been loading the mugs of terrorists and criminals into the database. Pictures of missing children were also being added, in the hope that a camera might spot one.
The paper quoted Robert Flowers, commander of the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command, as saying there were issues with project.
"It was never our plan to use it during the Olympics," he said. "I think the technology is still evolving and I think we felt ... our money was better spent it other areas."
G-Tec officials were puzzled by the last-minute decision.
"I think we have a right to know why this was done," said Nick Abaid, G-Tec director of business development. "There's a safety issue here. Why not utilize state-of-the-art technology if it's available to you for free?"
FaceTrac was used at Super Bowl XXXV to some criticism, and is part of the security systems at several Las Vegas casinos.
FaceTrac's computer measures 128 distinct facial features of every individual passing by its cameras and matches them against a database of criminals.
Critics contend the system is unreliable and violates a person's constitutional rights.