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How Facial Recognition Helped Catch the Gazette Shooter

By William Vogeler, Esq. on July 03, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Capital Gazette journalists never had a chance, and neither did the shooter.

Maryland police apprehended the suspect at the scene of the mass-murder, but he had no identification and refused to talk. So they took his picture, ran it through their database and quickly had a name.

Jarrod Ramos, accused of killing five people at the newspaper, is not the only one in the state's facial recognition database. It contains about 10 million driver's license images and mugshots.

Millions of Faces

Maryland is one of an increasing number of jurisdictions with facial recognition programs. According to reports, half of all Americans are already in a facial recognition database.

The FBI says its facial recognition project is at "full operational capability." New York has busted more than 4,000 people using DMV records and facial recognition software.

"The use of this facial recognition technology has allowed law enforcement to crack down on fraud, identity theft, and other offenses -- taking criminals and dangerous drivers off our streets and increasing the safety of New York's roadways," said Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

When police ID'd Ramos, it was basic protocol. Officials said the database had been accessed more than 175 times in a week.

Basic Protocol

The Baltimore Sun reported that, as of 2016, more than 6,000 law enforcement officials had access to the Maryland Image Repository System. Police agencies across the state confirmed using it.

However, it has been controversial. Civil liberties groups complain that it invades individual rights to privacy, like cell phone tracking and aerial surveillance.

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