You Could Be a Victim of Negligence by Michigan State Police

Published on March 18th, 2019

michigan state police negligence facial recognition software thurswell lawEven if you’ve never been arrested, the Michigan State Police (MSP) have all the goods on you. Anyone with a driver’s license or state ID card is automatically entered into the police database – this includes photo and personal information. The problem? The Michigan Secretary of State is required by law to give this info to the MSP, but the Secretary is not required to give a heads-up to residents. This can lead to negligence by police officers.

The Michigan Police Know a Lot About You

The Statewide Network of Agency Photos (SNAP) database is used by the MSP. This resource is combined with facial recognition software to help identify suspects. The database also has an option for police to include a person’s Facebook profile and other social media information if someone is researched in connection with an investigation, according to the Detroit Free Press.

While it might seem that the more details available the better when it comes to catching criminals, the problem is when an innocent citizen is mistaken for someone who has committed a crime. Facial recognition software is sophisticated, with algorithms designed to compare facial features of a suspect to photos in the database, but it isn’t foolproof.

Police Know You, but It’s Kind of a Secret

Of the nearly 50 million facial images collected in the database, approximately 8 million of them are of Michigan adults, with close to 3 million photos added to the database over the last year. State police agencies across the nation work together to share information, particularly if a suspect crosses state lines.

A 1998 amendment to the Michigan Vehicle Code required the SOS Office to begin sharing driver’s license and ID images with law enforcement. Unfortunately, Michigan residents are not notified that their information is put into a shared law enforcement database.

A Terrible Case of Mistaken Identity

The SNAP database costs around $300,000 annually to maintain and the governor is seeking over $500,000 in funds in the proposed 2020 budget to upgrade the software. Currently, a six-year-old algorithm is being used to compile and compare information. The possibility for user error is ripe.

Take the case of Marvin Seales, a Michigan man wrongfully jailed for two weeks before being let go because of mistaken identity. In his case, it wasn’t facial recognition that caused the problem, it was a misspelling.

As it turned out, a man by the name of Marin Seales was the man police sought as the gunman in a drive-by shooting. He had used “Marvin Seals” as an alias. The real Marvin Seales pleaded with his arresting officer and jailers to confirm his identity, but officers only said his driver’s license, Social Security card, credit cards, and other forms of identification were fraudulent.

Seales was awarded $3.5 million for everything he endured. The suspect in the drive-by shooting had not been arrested as of last summer.

Find Out If You Have a Personal Injury Case

Have you suffered at the hands of mistaken identity or police mistreatment? Get justice for your suffering with help from the personal injury lawyers at Thurswell Law. Schedule a consultation by calling (248) 354-2222 today. We do not charge any fees unless you collect.

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