NYPD Use Woody Harrelson In Facial Recognition Software To Catch Beer Thief That Looked Like Him

May 20, 2019
Woody Harrelson, The FIDE World Chess Championship, Red Carpet, Smile, 2018

(Photo by PA Images/Sipa USA)

The New York Police Department were on the lookout for a beer thief.

They didn’t have a name for their perp, but they had still images from a security camera that caught the suspect in the act.  

Though the photos were too blurry and pixelated to run through any facial recognition software, the police did notice that the man had a striking resemblance to actor Woody Harrelson.  So, the police decided to run a photo of Woody Harrelson instead.

And you know what, it worked!  Harrelson’s face returned several possible matches, and even led to one arrest!

The NYPD commented on their use of the actor’s face saying, “It is one thing for a company to build a face recognition system designed to help individuals find their celebrity doppelgänger or painting lookalike for entertainment purposes.  It’s quite another to use these techniques to identify criminal suspects, who may be deprived of their liberty and ultimately prosecuted based on the match.”

And though the picture lead to several possible matches, the NYPD wants to make it perfectly clear it takes more than a positive facial recognition to arrest a suspect.  Sgt. Jessica McRorie said in a statement, “No one has ever been arrested on the basis of a facial recognition match alone. As with any lead, further investigation is always needed to develop probable cause to arrest.”

Via Associated Press