Ohio began a face recognition pilot program in 2008; its current statewide system went live in 2013 (015278, 015285). The system was almost entirely unknown to the public until a 2013 investigation by the Cincinnati Enquirer, which uncovered that the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) had enrolled all state driver’s license photos with no notice to the public. Officers can also run searches against mug shot photos (015285). It is unclear if the mug shot database is “scrubbed” to eliminate people who were never charged, had charges dropped or dismissed, or who were found innocent. The Bureau of Criminal Investigation confirmed that the FBI—along with other law enforcement agents—may also access Ohio’s database “based upon a stated need” (016842). When the system went live, it was reported that 30,000 police officers and court employees could access the system. In its first eight months of operation, 504 different agencies conducted 6,618 searches (015285). At present, 4,406 individuals can access the system, and in the first four months of 2016, 1,429 searches were conducted by 104 agencies. BCI stated that it regularly conducts audits of the agencies that use facial recognition (016843).
Police are not required to have reasonable suspicion to run a search, but are prohibited from using face recognition to “conduct dragnet screening of individuals” or to conduct surveillance based on constitutionally protected activity “unless doing so furthers an official law enforcement activity” (009218). Ohio’s use policy has not been made public, though the Attorney General did establish an Advisory Board with community and civil rights group representatives to provide input on face recognition use and concerns (016843).
It appears that Ohio’s system uses a 3M Cogent face recognition algorithm (009222).
Sources and Noters: Attorney General’s Office BCI, Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4501.27 (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.