Harris County, Texas, one of the largest sheriff’s departments in the United States, is using a multi-biometric solution from Motorola-Viisage — fingerprints and face recognition — to improve its investigative and forensic processes.
Harris is enhancing the Motorola Printrak Biometric Identification Solution through integration with Viisage’s law enforcement investigation tools. Motorola is deploying a toolset that includes Viisage FaceEXPLORER as part of an integrated face recognition-enabled mug shot and fingerprinting system for Harris County.
In September, Viisage, Billerica, Mass., announced that Motorola Inc. and Viisage have combined their fingerprint and face recognition solutions to address identity issues for the criminal identification market. The first customer to deploy the combined solution is the Harris County, Texas, Sheriff’s Department.
“Viisage’s technology leads the market for face recognition used with mug-shot databases,” says Darrin Reilly, Motorola’s biometrics business unit vice president and general manager. “We have already begun our work together in Harris County and have witnessed the benefits the joint solution is bringing to our customer, both in terms of power of the solution and time to market.”
The sheriff’s department uses the Viisage FaceEXPLORER facial recognition database system to investigate identities for criminal investigation and to create line-ups for witnesses to view.
“We have been taking mug shots for more than 10 years,” says Pete Schroedter, the Harris County sheriff. “We previously had a database, but the facial technology is an additional tool that can help us to ascertain the identity of the criminal.”
FaceEXPLORER is a database identification solution for capturing, enrolling, storing, searching, managing and retrieving digital images. The system combines digital face images with stored demographic information. The system is used to uncover duplicate images in large databases, assisting in identity investigations, combating identity theft and fraud and granting permissions to authorized persons.
The system was installed into the Harris County information technology system in August 2005, allowing every computer on the network to access it. “It has been a successful program,” says Kevin Brown, Viisage program manager for the project. Previously, Harris County used Motorola’s Image Track — fingerprint, and Motorola has implemented Viisage’s technology to upgrade its software. “Harris County has enrolled more than one million images and performs about 50 image searches per month,” Brown adds. “The office is satisfied with the speed and accuracy of the new system.”
Mike Mazzu, vice president of professional services for Viisage, says there is potential to add mobile identity systems into patrol cars, allowing for identity checks to be performed on-site using a laptop, giving officers an immediate result.
“Using both face and fingerprint biometrics to identify criminals gives officers in the station-house and in the field powerful tools for timely identification of individuals,” Pete Schroedter says. “These advanced systems are critical to effectively protect our citizens and our officers from known violent criminals.”
Schroedter says the system’s Web-based design allows him to distribute mug shots to law agencies over their network. “There is a difference between facial recognition when used in private sector versus law enforcement. Everything we do we have to testify about in court and assume liability,” he said.
FaceEXPLORER is also used for law enforcement by Pinellas County, Fla., Jefferson County, Ala., New Jersey and Illinois State Police, Massachusetts, and the department of motor vehicles in Kentucky. Ten states in the United States use the face recognition for identity fraud and theft of driver’s licenses. In Pinellas, the system is used for identification of criminals from the pre-booking to the release of the individual to investigations, and 50 of their cruisers have laptops and cameras in the field. The office has made 100 arrests in the field since it was installed four years ago. The mobile system has been in use for about one year.