ewly obtained records show that in recent years the Long Beach Police Department has run over a thousand facial recognition searches without indicating any suspected criminal activity, flouting established transparency rules critical to the internal auditing and oversight of law enforcement’s use of this highly invasive technology.
Instead of crimes, most of these searches simply referenced the 2020 George Floyd demonstration—a constitutionally protected activity.
The “detailed search audit” of the facial recognition queries was reviewed by FORTHE after being turned over by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in response to a 16-month-old public records request submitted by CheckLBPD.org, a local police watchdog organization.
The records cover the period between 2009 and 2020 and show information the LBPD disclosed about each of the over 4,000 facial recognition searches it ran through a vast mugshot database maintained by the LASD. The database, known as the Los Angeles County Regional Identification System (LACRIS), can be accessed by 64 law enforcement agencies within the county and contains millions of booking photos dating back to the mid-1990s, as well as other biometric data. Once an image of a person’s face ends up in the LACRIS database, there is no way to remove it, even if a person is never charged with a crime.