City: We don't have facial recognition technology

Images from Evanston police surveillance cameras.

With San Francisco officials voting this week to ban city agencies there from using facial recognition technology, Evanston Now asked whether such techniques are in use here.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says says Evanston agencies don't have facial recognition software, although the police do have a network of surveillance cameras that can be monitored from the police station.

Police Cmdr. Ryan Glew says there also are no plans for the department to acquire the equipment in the future.

"If it's necessary for a case, we have requested assistance from an outside agency," Glew says, "but this is not a common practice."

Bobkiewicz says so far the issue of whether the city should have a policy about use of the technology "hasn't been raised by anyone."

The San Francisco restrictions were given preliminary approval by the Board of Supervisors there Tuesday on an 8-1 vote. The sponsor of  the measure, Supervisor Aaron Peskin, said, "We can have good policing without being a police state."

It thus is becoming the first major American city to block the technology, which departments across the country have used it to search for criminals ranging from shoplifters to mass shooting suspects.

Opponents see the technology as a threat to civil liberties. and similar bans are under consideration in Oakland, California, and Somerville, Massachusetts.