Portrait Of A Suspect At A Click Of The Mouse
In Maryland, Montgomery County police detectives now do the majority of their work creating likenesses of suspects via computer software. These programs enable the detectives to assemble portraits by pulling together a number of human features and accessories that can be darkened, softened, trimmed, and otherwise tweaked with just a few clicks of a computer mouse.
Because each facial feature is ready-made from a database, even a detective that has little artistic ability can create workable, effective images. Such “composites” have become an increasingly effective tool in an evolving age when law enforcement can distribute a sketch of a suspect to the public over the Internet, the Amber Alert system, 24-hour cable news networks, and such popular TV shows as Fox’s “America’s Most Wanted.”
Still, it should be noted that not all composites lead to arrests, and they alone are generally not enough to demonstrate probable cause that an individual has committed a crime. But they can reassure both victims and their families. Montgomery County detective Gary Irwin comments, “It tells the victim and their family that police are exhausting all possibilities.”
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Washington Post (11/10/05) P. T18; Londono, Ernesto .