Investigation reveals NYPD may use more facial recognition cameras in neighborhoods of color

Local News

NEW YORK — Cameras are always watching, so there’s nothing private for New Yorkers going out in public.

But the NYPD’s facial recognition technology takes being on camera a step further — and exactly where the department’s cameras are in place is raising concerns.

A new study by Amnesty International shows more than 15,000 NYPD cameras are across neighborhoods of color in Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn. In East New York alone, more than 570 cameras were found in intersections. The study suggests the NYPD is using the technology to amplify racist policing.

“The facial recognition technology is deeply inaccurate, particularly when analyzing the faces of women and people of color,” said Daniel Schwartz, a technology strategist for the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Critics believe this artificial intelligence is not always so smart and in many cases, targets people of color.

That’s the fear, given the department’s history of discrimination, as these cameras are raising more than just eyebrows.

But retired NYPD lieutenant Dr. Darrin Porcher tells PIX11 News the technology is not used based on race, instead as a crimefighting tool, and cameras are placed in densely populated areas all over the city.

“Times Square, Fordham Road in the Bronx, Fulton Street in Brooklyn, you will have a greater chance to have one of these cameras mounted,” he said.

Another target: neighborhoods designated as having higher crime rates.  

“When we look at crime patterns lately plaguing our communities of color, we take a proactive and not reactive stance,” Porcher added.

The study comes after a year of scrutiny of the NYPD’s tactics and broken relationships in communities of color.

“The NYPD does not and has never automatically run facial recognition tools against images collected by our security camera network,” a spokesperson for the department told PIX11 News. “If and when an image is run from any source, it has to do with a specific image of a suspect or suspects related to the investigation of a particular crime.”

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