NOLA Coalition Praises Council’s Vote Allowing Facial Recognition Tech

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NEW ORLEANS — The NOLA Coalition — a collection of local nonprofits, civic organizations and businesses that have joined forces to address crime and quality-of-life issues — has expressed support for the City Council’s July 21 vote that approved pay raises for New Orleans police officers and overturned a previous council ban on using existing facial recognition technology to help solve crimes.

“Yesterday, the New Orleans City Council voted to approve both a comprehensive pay raise for NOPD officers, and to restore the NOPD’s access to utilizing technology,” said a coalition spokesperson in an emailed statement. “The first will improve retention and morale, and the second will give the NOPD additional tools to keep our city safe, coupled with guardrails and procedures for ensuring accuracy. The NOLA Coalition, representing a broad cross-section of New Orleans, commends the Council and the Mayor’s Office for working together for a better New Orleans for our children, and all of our citizens.”

The coalition endorsed pay raises and use of technology as “force multipliers” at a July 12 press conference, where the group made its public debut and announced its plan to support NOPD while raising funds for youth services. An updated list of recommendations and coalition members can be found at nolacoalition.info.

Privacy advocates condemned the council’s vote and expressed concern about misuse of the technology. The Council banned use of certain surveillance tech in 2020, but leaders’ feelings about the issue have evolved during a spike in violent crime.

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