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Woody Harrelson lookalike arrested after the police use of actor-photo pin suspect: report

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A Woody Harrelson lookalike was arrested for theft after the police of New York ran a photo of the Hollywood actor through facial recognition program in an attempt to identify the suspect, a recent report revealed.

On April 28, 2017, an unknown man was caught on camera allegedly stealing a beer around the 4:48 a.m. a Manhattan CVS, the New York Police Department said at the time.

The image of the suspect from the surveillance images, it was very grainy and turned up no results when researchers with the Facial Identification Section, ran it through their systems.

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According to a report from Georgetown University’s Center on Privacy and Technology published on Thursday, a FSI detective noticed that the defendant seemed to actor Woody Harrelson, known for his roles in Cheers, Natural Born Killers and True Detective.

Researchers used high-quality images of Harrelson found on Google and submitted in place of the defendant is not more grainy image. The result ended in a contest.

An unknown man was booked and charged for small larceny.

On April 28, 2017, an unknown man was caught on camera allegedly stealing a beer around the 4:48 hours from Manhattan CVS, the New York Police Department said at the time.
(NYPD)

NYPD police carried out a similar process using the photo of a New York Knicks player looking for a man wanted for an assault in Brooklyn. The report stated that the player’s name had been redacted in this case.

The report points out, in this process of the use of a celebrity “match” to find suspects as incorrect and fallible.

“The stakes are too high in the criminal investigation to be based on unreliable or non—inputs,” the report said. “It is one thing for a company to build a face recognition system that is designed to help individuals find their celebrity doppelganger or painting lookalike for entertainment purposes only. It is a very different use of these techniques for identification of criminal suspects who are deprived of their liberty and eventually prosecuted on the basis of the match.”

But the NYPD said it is informed and responsible in the use of face recognition and that the technology is only a means of production, such as in the case of murder, rape, and robbery cases.

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“No one has ever arrested on the basis of facial recognition contest only,” Sgt. Jessica McRorie said in a statement to The Associated Press. “As with each lead, further investigation is always needed to develop probable cause to arrest.”

The Georgetown report says facial recognition has helped the NYPD crack about 2,900 cases in more than five years of use of the technology.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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