New Mexico law enforcement suspended from using Amazon’s facial recognition technology

New Mexico

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – As police departments nationwide are under extra scrutiny in recent weeks, a big tech company has announced it’s not letting law enforcement use its facial recognition software. Amazon announced this week, it’s going to prevent police departments from using its face “Rekognition” software for a year, following the death of George Floyd.

It started with the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and then Antonio Valenzuela’s death in Las Cruces. Protests against police brutality have been ongoing across the country and here in New Mexico.

As tensions rise across the nation against police departments, Amazon announced this week it’s suspending all law enforcement agencies from using its face “Rekognition” software for a year. They say they hope regulations can be put in place for ethical use of the technology. “We respect their wishes on pulling the plug or delaying it for a short time. That’s a call that’s definitely out of my pay grade,” said Dan Trujillo with the Las Cruces Police Department.

Thousands of police departments across the country are currently partnered with Amazon to use their Ring doorbell cameras to help with investigations. Here in New Mexico, Albuquerque and Las Cruces Police are the only two departments in the state that have signed up for the program.

However, neither of them have started to use Amazon’s facial recognition function. “Sure, we would like to use it and I’m sure we would at some point, but since we haven’t started using it yet, it’s not going to hurt us at all,” said Trujillo.

Las Cruces Police say this will not set them back in their daily policing, but look forward to being able to utilize the technology once Amazon lifts its restrictions. “What’s going on in our country right now is much bigger than us using this tool,” said Trujillo.

Albuquerque Police did not want to speak with us on camera, but did say this move does not affect them because they weren’t using the facial recognition function either. However, the department does still partner with Ring to help with investigations.

Amazon’s announcement comes days after the CEO of IBM announced the company is also moving away from facial recognition. That decision was also fueled by George Floyd’s death.

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