ATM images of a forgery and theft suspect were e-mailed to Steve Wilkins at the Pierce County, Wa., Sheriff’s Department. He picked the clearest one and used new facial-recognition software to compare it to 16 years’ worth of prisoner mug shots taken at jail. Within 15 minutes he’d found a match that led to an arrest and conviction, reports the Tacoma News Tribune.
The match was the first for a sheriff’s department pilot project with Sagem Morpho Inc.’s new facial-recognition software, MorphoFace. The computer program runs with Hollywood-like ease and, with a click of a button, compares a suspect’s image to a database of thousands of known offenders. “We think it is going to turn some cases for us and we’ll make some arrests,” said sheriff’s detective Sgt. Tim Kobel, who supervises the property- crimes unit. The sheriff’s department paid Sagem Morpho, a French biometric-technology company whose North American headquarters is in Tacoma, $18,000 to test the software from June through December. Facial-recognition software is not new on the national and international law-enforcement stage. Tampa used it in 2001 during the Super Bowl, spotting 19 people with criminal records.