The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) may have the most advanced face recognition system in the country—yet refused to comply with our public records request. In 2013, it announced a system that could perform real-time face recognition from 600 feet using CCTV cameras in the West San Fernando Valley. In 2007, LAPD said that a “smart car” would be equipped with face recognition. In 2005, LAPD announced a CCTV camera system “equipped with ‘intelligent’ video capabilities and facial recognition software.” Yet in response to a request for documents relating to its use of face recognition, LAPD stated that it has “no records responsive to [the] request” (000102).
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LACSD) has a face recognition system accessible on desktop and via emails sent from mobile devices (000623). LACSD has no publicly available policy governing when it is appropriate for police to use the face recognition, and provided no such policy in response to our request. It is possible that it does not exist.
The LACSD system searches mug shots “of all subjects criminally booked within Los Angeles County” (000349), but it’s unclear what other databases are accessible, how many mug shots are enrolled in the system, or if LACSD “scrubs” its mug shot database to eliminate people who were never charged, had charges dropped or dismissed, or who were found innocent. African Americans are likely overrepresented in the system; they are arrested at a rate 176% higher than their share of the county population.
Sources and Notes: LAPD, LACSD, State of California Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General, U.S. Census (Last updated: September 2016). You can review our scorecard criteria in the Methodology section. Numerical citations, e.g. (123456), refer to official records available by clicking "View Documents" below.