New facial recognition technology gaining popularity with police departments

Posted on Apr 25, 2014

Facial recognition software is starting to become more widespread among police departments while they are in the hunt to find criminals. New police technology is able to use mug shot evaluation processes to search through the state's database of driver's licenses or police records to match up with criminals, reported CBS affiliate WKMG.

The new software is currently being used at the Daytona Beach Police Department and has been a success so far. According to the source, the new system has been able to successfully find four matches in 2012, nine matches in 2013 and five matches so far in 2014.


The database is able to go through the 30 million images of driver's licenses and mug shots, and match up distinct facial features and markings.

"It basically focuses on the algorithms between the eyes, the nose, the mouth," explained Jackie Flory, a criminal analyst for the DBPD, according to WKMG.

While the computer matches up a small group of potential suspects, an officer has to search through and match up the mug shot with the pictures in the database.

"That's where the human aspect comes in where I literally have to look at it," Flory added, according to WKMG. "You have to match up scars. You have to match up [the] nose, mouth [and] birthmarks."

New technology improving chances of catching criminals

The process is creating less work for police officers searching through the massive amount of photos to get a match and helping them stay in the field. According to NBC affiliate KMOV, police officials in St. Louis are also using facial recognition technology. Supporters of facial-recognition reference the Boston Marathon bombings and how important the technology can be.

"If someone robs a bank and cameras capture that face, we then take that picture, put it into a computer system [and] through a scanning system," said Nick Gragnani, executive director of STARRS, an emergency management company, reported KMOV. "[It then] goes through the existing mug shot databases looking for known criminals that would match that picture."

In St. Louis, police officials still need a court order to search through the image library of drivers' license pictures, the source reported. However, the law executives are hopeful that crime control software will be fully available at the beginning of 2015.

Flory told WKMG the FBI could be working on a national database for all U.S. police departments to access and help solve crimes faster.

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