Author ORCID Identifier

Thaddeus L. Johnson:

Natasha N. Johnson:

Denise McCurdy:

Document Type


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This study examines the association between police facial recognition technology (FRT) deployment and racial differences in arrests across 1,136 U.S. cities in 2016. We estimated doubly robust propensity score models using data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, FBI Uniform Crime Report, and the U.S. Census Bureau. Results show that agency FRT use contributes to greater racial disparity in arrests. This relationship was underpinned by statistically meaningful and positive FRT effects on Black arrest rates and negative effects on White rates. We also observed more sizeable and significant impacts for adult arrests, indicating that FRT’s association with adult rates primarily drives the overall disparity finding. Results suggest a need for civic leaders to scrutinize the relative contributions of structural factors, agency policies, and government directives to officer decision-making before widely deploying FRT in jurisdictions. For agencies currently using this technology, it would imply the need for policies and supervision that guide, and in some cases restrict, officer discretion in FRT-assisted contexts.


Author accepted manuscript version of an article published by Elsevier in Thaddeus L. Johnson, Natasha N. Johnson, Denise McCurdy, Michael S. Olajide, Facial recognition systems in policing and racial disparities in arrests, Government Information Quarterly, Volume 39, Issue 4, 2022,


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Supplemental Material

Available for download on Thursday, September 26, 2024