Police respond to Councillors’ claim that ‘facial recognition software’ could be used on Hamilton protestors

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Published December 11, 2020 at 10:59 am

During a council meeting Wednesday (Dec. 9), former Hamilton Police Services Board chair, Lloyd Ferguson mentioned “facial recognition software” as a resource that local police can use when dealing with protestors.

During a discussion with Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger regarding the protest that occurred downtown recently by “Defund Hamilton Police Service” demonstrators in which part of Main Street was blocked, Ward 12 Councillor Ferguson said police have “a great of resources available to them—facial recognition and so on…”

Hamilton Police Service stated back in February that they are not using facial recognition software to track residents

A spokesperson for the service reiterated on Friday (Dec. 11), “We do not use facial recognition technology. I can’t speak for Councillor Ferguson but I can confirm that HPS does not use facial recognition technology.”

Meanwhile, the official Twitter account for Hamilton Police responded:

“We do not use facial recognition technology. We have confirmed through the IPC and via the FOI process. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.”

IPC stands for Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario and FOI refers to Freedom of Information.

Defund Hamilton Police Service (DHPS) organizers have been staging protests over the last several weeks, demanding the City slash the police budget by 50 per cent and redirect the funds towards free and affordable housing.

Lloyd Ferguson expressed concern on behalf of his constituents that further protests on public roads would be an inconvenience. He implied that further punishment by police and bylaw officers could help deter future protests by DHPS.

Ferguson’s constituents in the Ancaster-area are among the most affluent in the City of Hamilton, with an average household income of over $150,000, according to public data from 2015—more than $62,000 higher than the city average.

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