Detroit police chief: I’d be fired for Rep. Tlaib’s ‘racism’ over facial recognition


The head of the Detroit Police Department exposed the “double standard” in a recommendation made by Rep. Rashida Tlaib.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig endured a tense encounter with the Michigan Democrat as he showed her how the city’s new facial recognition technology worked. But after trying to bridge her skepticism, Craig revealed that the congresswoman’s suggestion to only use black people on the technology team would probably get him fired for “racism.”

(Video: Twitter)

Tlaib was invited to visit the city and learn about the new technology after she trashed it in August as “this whole facial recognition bulls**t.”

The Detroit Police Department reached out to the freshman lawmaker and invited her to see the software for herself how the software worked.

But while Tlaib took up the invitation to tour the Real Time Crime Center, she could not hide her doubts or her criticism, at one point even questioning why a reporter from The Detroit News was there shooting footage.

“Who are you and why are you video-taping me?” she asked, wondering if it was for facial recognition.

She also interrupted a facial recognition analyst who was attempting to show her how human interaction and the software technology worked together. Tlaib noted that during Congressional committee hearings, she had heard information that did not back what Craig was showing her about the technology.

Craig requested Tlaib give him a chance to show her how the system worked, acknowledging that “we don’t disagree with the concerns” she brought up.

“If you’d be patient with me and let me go through this,” he asked.

“I know,” the liberal congresswoman told him. “Just see if you can get some of our money back until they fix it.”

The police chief’s calm response was a simple, “no.”

He had to stand firm again when Tlaib made her outrageous suggestion.

(Video: Twitter)

“Analysts need to be African Americans, not people that are not,” Tlaib told Craig.

“I think non-African Americans think African Americans all look the same,” she went on after some surprised reactions. “I’ve seen it even on the House floor: People calling Elijah Cummings ‘John Lewis,’ and John Lewis ‘Elijah Cummings,’ and they’re totally different people. I see it all the time, and I love them because they go along with it.”

“I trust people who are trained, regardless of race; regardless of gender. It’s about the training,” Craig responded diplomatically.

“I know,” Tlaib said. “But it does make a huge difference with the analysts.”

A reporter asked the lawmaker after the tour about her comments and whether she was implying that white people should not work in the crime center.

“No, I think there has actually been studies out that it’s hard for — African Americans would identify African Americans, or Latinos, same thing,” she responded, telling the reporter to “look it up” when asked if “non-whites should be barred from working as crime analysts in mostly white communities,” according to The Detroit News.

A link to a study purportedly backing her claims was provide Tuesday by Tlaib’s spokesman Denzel McCampbell.

“The studies related to cross-race effect or other-race effect,” McCampbell said in an email to the newspaper.

“This has shown that individuals are less accurate when identifying people from a race other than their own,” he added. “Detroit has a black population of more than 80%, so that is where her basis came from and what she was trying to convey when it comes to accurate identification.”

The Detroit Police Chief and members of his staff were outraged by the congresswoman’s “insulting” remarks.

“It’s insulting,” Craig said. “We have a diverse group of crime analysts, and what she said — that non-whites should not work in that capacity because they think all black people look alike — is a slap in the face to all the men and women in the crime center.”

Detroit Police Officers as well as civilians in the department are required to go through mandatory implicit bias training, Craig explained.

“That’s something we train for, and it’s valuable training, but to say people should be barred from working somewhere because of their skin color? That’s racist,” he declared.

After criticism about her suggestion on the color of the analysts’ skin, Tlaib insisted she was just doing her “job.”

“This is me protecting my residents. My residents asked me to do my job,” she said. “My job is to make sure they are not going to be misidentified and detained or falsely arrested because he’s using broken technology.”

She was asked “repeatedly” if she still stood behind her contention.

“I stand behind my comments that facial recognition technology is broken and that relying on an analyst that might not be reflective of the suspect, it’s flawed in itself as well,” she said.

But Craig noted that Tlaib’s request was just “troubling.”

“As a police chief that happens to be African-American in this city, if I made a similar statement people would be calling for my resignation,” he said. “Right now. We know that.”

“So is it a double standard? That’s the number one question I have,” he added.

Twitter users were equally appalled by Tlaib’s remarks and praised Craig’s reaction.


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