Canadian police used DNA phenotyping when trying to identify a sexual assault suspect. Since the features in the photo produced by artificial intelligence are very common among black people, the photo was removed and an apology message was published.
The Edmonton Police Department in Alberta, Canada, used “DNA phenotyping” to find a long-lost suspect.
No trace or footage of the suspect who sexually assaulted a woman in 2019 could be obtained.
The agency therefore turned to US-based Parabon NanoLabs “as a last resort”.
While it was stated that the suspect was of East African origin, the police force published a computer-generated image of a black man with short hair on its website.
However, social media users and experts argued that the person pictured in the image has characteristics that are very common among blacks and may cause racist attacks by putting many people under suspicion.
After the reactions, the Edmonton Police Department held a press conference.
Speaking at the meeting, Enyinnah Okere, head of the agency’s Bureau of Community Safety, apologized:
“Even though the tension I felt was very real, I prioritized the investigation. The victim of this incident was also a member of a discriminated community.”
After the police statement, the image was removed from its website and social media accounts.