Meridian Star

New Today

June 18, 2013

State photo-ID databases become troves for police

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

The sheriff's office, whose jurisdiction includes St. Petersburg and its suburbs, built its facial-recognition system over more than a decade, relying for most of that time on mug shots collected at prisons and police booking centers across the state.

The system now has partnerships with the sheriff's offices in more than half of Florida's counties and many other government agencies. This year the unit added the ability to search more than 20 million driver's-license records, bringing the number of facial images in the database to 30 million, official say.

The Pinellas County system also has access to 250,000 mug shots — though not driver's license images — from the Northern Virginia Regional Identification System, a joint project of Washington area jurisdictions, including some Maryland counties.

Pinellas Deputy Jeremy Dressback, a community policing officer, uses access from the laptop in his patrol car to keep track of the people he encounters on a dingy country stretch notorious for prostitution, drugs and seedy motels.

On a recent patrol, when a scruffy-looking man he did not recognize walked up to one of the motels, Dressback stopped him on suspicions of trespassing and asked for identification. The man did not have a driver's license but gave his name — James Shepherd, age 33, from Kentucky — and said he was staying at the motel with his girlfriend.

Dressback pulled out a digital camera, asked permission to take a picture and then snapped a shot. When the image did not match anyone in the facial-recognition system, Dressback downloaded the picture to his laptop computer and attached it to a field report on Shepherd as a "suspicious person."

Shepherd, who said he was a roofer returning from work, grumbled at the intrusion, even though he had agreed to have his picture taken. "I'm not a criminal, so there's really no reason for me to be in a criminal database," Shepherd said before adding, "But I have been arrested quite a few times."

When his girlfriend walked by moments later — they were indeed staying at the motel — Shepherd directed her toward their room.

"Get out of here," he said. "You'll be in his database in 10 seconds."

- - -

Brook Silva-Braga contributed to this report.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8
Text Only
New Today
Biz Marquee
New Today
Poll

Do you think the city of Meridian should aggressively enforce the city's code enforcement laws on litter, abandoned homes and overgrown lots by issuing tickets and stiff fines?

Yes
No
     View Results
Facebook
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide