Vote to approve new Birmingham Public Safety software gets tabled

Concerns over new BPD software

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Birmingham Public Safety leaders have tabled a vote on a new police software they said will help command centers see in real-time the types of calls and situations officers are responding to.

That may be good news for some people who are not in favor of it.

Committee members said this new technology from Motorola merges all the different technologies the department uses into one interface, which they said will help support neighborhoods all over the city.

But some groups were planning to protest a meeting saying this technology will target minority communities.

City leaders said Motorola Command Central is a new tool that will improve police response times making public safety officers more efficient, while protecting communities.

“They will be able to pull up our officer’s body cameras and their car cameras should an officer be responding to a high priority call, they will have a clear vision of what is going on and what resources are needed for that call,” said Committee Chairman Hunter Williams.

But some groups said they’re not buying the public safety component of the new software.

Community Activist Rev. Majadi Baruti said he’s concerned the software will use facial recognition technology.

“We’re already encroached upon enough by the police…harassed, detained as Black folk, why would we want more of it?” Baruti said.

“We understand why people want to have more policing and more efficient policing, but hyper-policing is not the way,” Baruti explained.

But Williams said these concerns stem from rumors on social media, and the city has no plans to use facial recognition.

“The great thing about this technology is that…it’s technology that’s blind to color or any other group of people,” Williams said.

Williams said they’re sending the contract back to the law department to specify in writing that facial recognition software will not be used, so Tuesday’s vote has been postponed until that language is explicitly spelled out.

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