SBPD researches technology upgrades including facial recognition

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Local law enforcement is looking to upgrade its technology at the direction of the public. A Community Action Group (CAG) meeting was held in South Bend Tuesday night to discuss the police department’s technology upgrade policy.

The public is invited to participate and have their say about the future of the South Bend Police Department.

The SBPD is using funds from the U.S. rescue program to upgrade its technology.

The department had two draft technology policies and an existing policy for discussion on Tuesday.

One is dealing with public safety video systems. This refers to video surveillance of public areas throughout the city.

The cameras that will be installed around the city will only record images, not audio. They will be used to deter criminal activity, target areas with high complaints of gang or drug activity, respond to incidents, identify criminals and monitor traffic.

The city will listen to the public before moving forward with the policy. Another draft policy involves facial recognition technology.

The draft claims to strike a balance between improving public safety while still maintaining individual privacy.

The policy states that any results from facial recognition technology should be considered a lead for investigation, but no probable cause has been determined without further investigation.

it will no Can be used for any form of surveillance unless there is an imminent threat to public safety.

Any misuse may result in administrative or even criminal penalties.

The technology will be used under the supervision of the head of department operations.

Existing policies for public scrutiny involve license plate readers. South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski said the department has been using license plate readers for about a decade.

ARP funds can be used to install more license plate readers across the city.

At the CAG meeting at the O’Brien Fitness Center in South Bend, community members and city leaders shared privacy concerns, primarily about where and how all video data collected will be stored and managed.

To read the policy and provide comments, please click here.

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