By Associated Press - Wednesday, March 10, 2021

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) - Virginia Beach police admitted last week that some of their detectives used a controversial facial recognition program during criminal investigations, according to a report.

In February 2020 and again in September, the Police Department had told The Virginian-Pilot that it had never used Clearview AI. It also denied using any other facial recognition technology recently, though the department briefly experimented with an in-house system at the Oceanfront in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the newspaper reported.

But records obtained by The Pilot through the state’s open records law revealed 10 detectives signed up for Clearview accounts, starting in November 2019 . On Tuesday, the department said top brass ordered all officers to stop using the facial recognition program in November, meaning some detectives could have used it for up to a year.

Only after those detectives asked the department to start paying for Clearview did police officials realize they were wrong when they repeatedly told the newspaper the department had never used the technology, police spokeswoman Officer Linda Kuehn said Tuesday. She said she issued the denials to The Pilot in February 2020 and in September based on what she’d been told.

Now, Chief Paul Neudigate has ordered a department-wide review of how new technology is evaluated and adopted, especially when it has the potential to impact people’s privacy, Kuehn said.

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