© 2024
Virginia's Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The debate over police use of facial recognition technology isn't over

This photo taken Tuesday, May 7, 2019, shows a security camera. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Eric Risberg
This photo taken Tuesday, May 7, 2019, shows a security camera. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Lawmakers are not done debating whether police should be able to use facial recognition technology. An amendment from the governor will keep this issue on the docket for weeks.

Police use of facial recognition technology is an issue that divides lawmakers in unexpected ways. On one side of the issue are people who oppose it, including Republican Speaker Todd Gilbert and Black Caucus Chairman Lamont Bagby. On the other side of the issue are people who support it, including former Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn and House Majority Leader Terry Kilgore.

Delegate Cia Price is a Democrat from Newport News who voted against the bill.

"I'm really surprised that there's bipartisan support for this when I would’ve thought that there would’ve be bipartisan opposition from libertarians, those of us who represent urban areas," Price says. "This is big brother."

The bill was introduced by Senator Scott Surovell, a Democrat from Fairfax County, who says those concerns are overblown.

"This is not Minority Report. The bill does not authorize surveillance. It does not authorize sort of constant monitoring," Surovell explains. "It is used in very discrete circumstances once you have one picture you want to put in the algorithm to figure out who it is. It's not something that sits there and looks at faces real time and points out people to go charge. That's not how it works."

Governor Glenn Youngkin added an amendment requiring additional training for the new technology. Lawmakers will be debating that amendment when they meet for a reconvene session later this month.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.