Chinese police nab murder suspect with facial recognition

Xinhua
Police in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality have caught a murder suspect who has been on the run for 17 years with the help of facial recognition technology.
Xinhua

Police in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality have caught a murder suspect who has been on the run for 17 years with the help of facial recognition technology, local authorities said Friday.

On July 31, a police officer from Chongqing's Jiulongpo District received an alert from a facial recognition system installed at a local square. The system reported there was a high likelihood that the man captured by the cameras at the square was the suspect of a robbery and murder case in 2002.

The system used by the police can compare images of people on the streets with suspects in the police database and immediately notify the police once the match rate crosses a pre-set threshold.

"It was hard to tell whether the man was the suspect because he had been on the run for 17 years and his appearance had changed," said Qiu Rui, the officer. "But I believed then that the facial recognition system is usually more reliable than human eyes, as it makes conclusions according to a person's facial details such as eye shapes and face shapes."

The following police investigation found the man had made frequent phone calls to the sister of the suspect. On Aug. 2, the police captured the man, who admitted on the spot that he was the suspect.

Local police said the suspect surnamed Dong, along with three other people, robbed and killed a person on July 1, 2002. While Dong's accomplices were arrested soon afterward, Dong went on the run.

In recent years, monitoring cameras with facial recognition technology have increasingly become the method of choice used by the Chongqing police to deter and solve crimes.

In Jiulongpo District alone, the facial recognition systems have helped local police crack more than 200 cases involving fugitives or missing persons and identified over 1,000 cases of traffic violations this year.

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