London Police Using 200 Super-recognizers: What Makes Them “super”?

London police use super recognizers to fight crime

PC Paul Hyland a Metropolitan Police super-recognizer poses for photographs beside computer screens at the force’s New Scotland Yard headquarters in London on Sept. 18, 2013./ AP London police officers at Scotland Yard have reportedly been getting helped by a new breed of police-officers with special skills: “super-recognizers.” The Associated Press reported Friday that since 2011, about 200 London police officers have been recruited into an elite squad of super-recognizers that search crime surveillance photos in the hopes of identifying suspects based on perps they’d seen before. Super recognizers were responsible for nearly 30 percent of the 4,000 people who were arrested following the 2011 London riots , according to the report. “When we have an image of an unidentified criminal, I know exactly who to ask instead of sending it out to everyone and getting a bunch of false leads,” Mick Neville, Detective Chief Inspector at Scotland Yard who created the unit, told the AP. Just what exactly makes someone a super-recognizer? Richard Russell, an assistant professor of psychology at Gettysburg College in Pa., led a 2009 study that coined the phrase “super-recognizers.” He theorizes people with this superior facial recognition ability are on the other end of a spectrum from people who suffer from another condition called “face-blindness,” or prosopagnosia. In face-blindness, people have an inability to recognize familiar faces, even of celebrities and people they know well. Russell told he does not believe super-recognizers are doing anything dramatically different than average people when they look at someone to recognize a familiar face. He thinks they don’t hone in on someone’s eyes or a specific feature to recognize someone better than a typical individual would, he said. “We don’t really know whether they are doing something qualitatively different than other people. I assume they are not,” said Russell. “It might be a quantitative difference — still using the same kind of processes, but maybe they’re better.” One of the goals of facial recognition research is to understand which cues are leading people to identify a face.

Kaye also noted cases where expert witnesses didn’t need to have their skills verified before testifying in court and thought that in most instances, the prosecution would have more evidence than simply the identification of an alleged criminal by a super recognizer. He said the skills of super recognizers might be more plausibly used in obtaining search warrants. “There aren’t strict rules for getting a warrant,” Kaye said. “The judge is supposed to exercise independent judgment but often anything goes,” he said, explaining that a super recognizer’s identification of a suspect based on a grainy image might be sufficient to issue a search warrant. Charles Farrier, a spokesman for the UK privacy group, No CCTV, called the police’s use of super recognizers “the latest gimmick” being used to promote the widespread use of surveillance cameras. According to the group, Britain has the most surveillance cameras per person in the world. “It is a slippery slope when we want to start to justify the widespread use of blanket surveillance `just in case’ a policeman spots someone,” he wrote in an email. “The use of (super recognizers) will lead to cases of mistaken identity but more than that, it forms part of a ubiquitous surveillance culture that spreads fear and distrust,” he said. But Brad Duchaine of Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., a psychologist who has published on super recognizers, said he thinks the London police approach makes sense. “People are much better at facial recognition than software (is), so using people is a very reasonable thing to do,” Duchaine said. Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization, said they weren’t aware of any police forces worldwide using super recognizers or similar techniques to the London Metropolitan Police.

London Whale Settlement Sets Legal Precedent

The commission further contends the bank did not file this information as required by federal securities laws (a Sarbanes-Oxley violation). While proving fraud is a relatively high bar since the agency needs to show intent rather than negligence, the Chase settlement could support the SEC’s case. And the Department of Justice has filed a separate suit against Bank of America concerning this matter. Meanwhile, the London Whale settlement could cause Citigroup more legal headaches stemming from its settlement with Fannie Mae in July. In that episode, the bank agreed to pay about $968 million to cover pre-existing loans and any potential future claims on loans originated and sold to the housing agency between 2000 and 2012. The case centered on 3.7 million mortgage loans that had already defaulted as well as others on the edge of foreclosure. The settlement concerned “legacy repurchase issues.” Cash for the settlement is being covered by existing mortgage repurchase reserves, and an additional $245 million were added in the second quarter. Given the new precedent of the London Whale settlement, it’s possible additional set asides will be needed. This is because Citigroup’s settlement with Fannie includes any future claims — claims that may be prompted by the Chase deal. The bottom line is legal uncertainty The London Whale precedent is something investors need to consider. Obviously, the Big Four have recovered from the financial crisis of 2008, and their balance sheets reflect financial strength.

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