By Newell Normand | WWL-AM870 | December 15, 2020

The NOPD is coming under fire for utilizing a partnership with the FBI and Louisiana State Police because they use certain investigatory tools, including facial recognition software. The ACLU and others are outraged that the NOPD has not revealed that they have these partnerships and use this technology, and they want it to stop. Newell spoke to Rafael Goyeneche from the Metropolitan Crime Commission about where things go from here.

“I don’t quite understand why this is such a shock to anybody,” Newell began. “We partner with organizations like the FBI, LSP, ATF, the US Marshals, whatever it may be. They bring a plethora of assets and technology that local law enforcement does not have. Why would you not take advantage of that?”

Seems logical to me,” Goyeneche agreed. “What we ask of NOPD, what the Mayor, the council and the public expect them to do, is to focus on serious felony violent crimes. With the onset of home security cameras, and the fact that you can’t walk into a place of business without being recorded, couple that with all the cameras on the streets, invariably, you see if there’s a bank robber they’re going to capture that person’s face. Historically what happened is we would put that on TV and in the paper and ask for help identifying them. Well, now technology is available that can help provide that identity, and to say that the police department would not have access to that information, in light of the crime surge and physical restraints placed on the police department with furloughs and the elimination of overtime… why not use this type of technology to provide the leads the law enforcement needs to solve more of these felony offenses? It makes no sense to ignore it.”

“We don’t deploy technologies just for the sake of deploying them, for the sake of a press conference,” Newell continued. “We want to make sure that it’s meaningful, operational, and that it minimizes human capital. If we can take advantage of having fewer employees, all the better. Boots on the ground matter, but we are suffering a 20% attrition rate, openings all over this country. This city is in a human capital crisis right now. You’re begging for partnerships with these other agencies, and at the same time, saying we don’t want this tech in New Orleans? It’s already being used every day! What you want and what you’re going to get are two different things, but it’s being utilized regardless!”

“It’s really somewhat hypocritical,” Goyeneche said.  “The city readily uses red light cameras, but they’re restricting the NOPD from using similar tech to identify violent felony offenders? That makes no sense to me and I think it makes no sense to people on the street, either.”

Hear the entire interview in the audio player below.