Kenton County, Ky., jailers have been taking pictures of tattoos on inmates to help track and suppress gang activity, says the Cincinnati Enquirer. An estimated half of the jail’s inmates have tattoos. Officials hope the database of tattoos will be invaluable in identifying suspects. Sometimes tattoos are the most identifiable mark on masked robbers. Many times, victims of a crime are so traumatized they cannot give an accurate description, but they will remember a tattoo.
The jail’s gang intelligence officer, Staff Sgt. Hilton Humphrey, interprets the tattoos and graffiti found on cell walls. His work has helped identify inmates belonging to the Crips, Bloods, Five Percenters, Gangster Disciples, and various white supremacist groups. A typical tattoo of a gang member from Northern Kentucky was found on an inmate affiliated with the Bloods. It is an elaborate picture of a young man firing a pistol from the left hand and holding a bag of cash in the right hand. Humphrey can ask questions and put pictures of tattoos he does not understand on a secure, but unclassified, nationwide network called the Regional Information Sharing Systems National Gang Database.