Law enforcement interoperability

Law enforcement, NIST making fingerprint files easier to search (GCN)

Not all AFIS are alike, however. State and local agencies often maintain their own databases, and although there can be some interoperability in a vertical hierarchy of local, state and federal databases, there is very little interoperability horizontally between neighboring jurisdictions. To search different databases, examiners must mark distinctive features for fingerprints manually for different systems, using different coding, notation methods and data definitions.

Better training leads to better face recognition

AUSTRALIA: Crims outed by Vic cops’ facial recognition system

Key to the accuracy of the system was the composition of photos according to strict positioning criteria.

Victoria Police senior sergeant Cameron Tullberg said the quality of suspect photographs had degraded over decades.

At a recent police technology conference in Melbourne, Sgt Tullberg showed fellow officers recent photographs of such low quality that identification of suspects was almost impossible. In one photo an entire face was cropped out.

He said the requirements had been “turned all the way up”, forcing police officers to properly compose a photo before it would be accepted by the system.

We have often made the point that facial recognition systems are best used by skilled operators. Their operation is far more complex than, say, fingerprint systems. This story from Australia draws attention to the fact that sensitivity to facial recognition “best practices” on the front end (data-gathering phase) leads to better matching down the road.

Prisoner pulls same ID switcheroo twice.

U.S. Marshals tracked Marquez to a Michigan home in January. However, he pulled the same identity-swap trick on jail officers there after he was arrested and booked. He walked out of that jail too.

Currently, he is on the run and considered armed and dangerous.

Simple mistakes led to Maricopa County Jail escape; armed and dangerous suspect still on loose

As the headline says, they’re simple mistakes. They’re also simple to fix.

I can’t think of a good reason to forego the use of computerized biometric checks for prisoner release. I say computerized because evidently, there was a sergeant who compared an older, smudged, thumb print with a fresh one before allowing the release — an additional benefit of automated fingerprint systems is that they often come with a quality checker on the front end, which goes a long way to preventing the “garbage in” part of the famous metaphor.

Another important issue, touched upon in the video below is the issue of specific training regarding the prisoner release process.

The sheriff’s office is in the procurement stages for new, biometric technology.

Philippines: Fingerprint regulation of bus system gets positive review from local commuter

Biometric boosts (Malaya Business Insight)

I FELT like I was in the twilight zone last Friday and this Monday. Although there was some traffic, it wasn’t anything like the monstrous bottlenecks I experience every end and start of the work week.

It was a pleasant surprise actually and thanks to the Metro Manila Development Authority (paging Atty. Francis Tolentino).

The website Top Gear reported that MMDA “has rolled out an enhanced bus-dispatch system that not only regulates the number of public-utility buses on EDSA but also monitors the drivers manning them.”

It further reports that the “Bus Management and Dispatch System (BMDS) is the first bus-reduction program in the country that utilizes biometrics (through fingerprint-scanning) to identify and monitor PUB drivers, “ensuring the safety of commuters that patronize PUBs.”

Earlier post: Philippines: Manila development authority adopts fingerprint biometrics in bus dispatch and monitoring system

Philippines: Manila development authority adopts fingerprint biometrics in bus dispatch and monitoring system

UPDATED – January 31 below:

MMDA to begin biometrics-based bus monitoring system Jan. 31 (GMA News)

On Thursday, Jan. 31, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority will put in effect a biometric-based bus dispatch and monitoring system to regulate the number of public utility buses along EDSA.

The Bus Management and Dispatch System (BMDS), also monitors the drivers of these buses, the MMDA said Wednesday.

“Our aim is to instill discipline among PUB drivers and make them aware that we at the MMDA, together with other agencies, are capable of monitoring them, especially their driving behavior,” the MMDA website quoted chairman Francis Tolentino as saying.

According to the article, the new system meets several goals associated with the smooth running of the Manila bus system, a system that involves central coordination of many private providers. The new system seeks to better coordinate the providers to provide optimum service levels as demand changes and to better insure that the drivers don’t have too many outstanding traffic violations.

Finally, MMDA stops bus driver with 99 violations (Inquirer News)

Before he could be issued a ticket for his 100th traffic violation, this bus driver was told to keep off the road on the first day of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA) Bus Management and Dispatch System (BMDS).

MMDA Assistant General Manager Emerson Carlos said the man, one of several drivers grounded on Thursday, was shown to have 99 unsettled traffic tickets.

Launched Thursday, the BMDS seeks to cut down the number of unsafe buses on the road by preventing public utility bus (PUB) drivers with previous traffic records from even driving out of their terminals.

Under the scheme, drivers have to undergo fingerprint or biometric scanning at designated dispatch terminals before they are given the go signal to ply their routes.

That didn’t take long! This and 284 other drivers were grounded on the first day of the new system’s operation.

It’s not clear that it was the fingerprint provision of the new program that caught out the bus driver with 99 unaddressed violations but it does give the reader a sense of the issues the MMDA is grappling with.

Biometrics help ID fugitive officer at border crossing

Former officer arrested at bridge (Brownsville Herald)

He was arrested and accused in 2008 of being involved in unlawful firearm purchases and failing to appear at his arraignment, according to a 2009 news release from then-U.S. Attorney Tim Johnson.

Duenez walked up to the bridge and presented his Texas driver’s license and U.S. birth certificate, CBP said in a news release.

“Preliminary checks revealed that the individual, later identified as Armando Duenez, was a possible match to an arrest warrant and was referred to secondary for further inspection,” the press release states.

During secondary inspection, biometric checks through CBP and law-enforcement databases matched him to a U.S. Marshals warrant, according to CBP.

Biometrics & the Michigan State Police

New technologies help police ID suspected crooks (South Bend Tribune)

11/2-year-old Biometrics and Identification Division of the State Police makes Michigan the first state to have a separate office working on criminal justice biometrics.

“Criminals are known for being untruthful, and they have a motive to hide their identity. So it’s up to law enforcement to find out who they really are and find out if they may be wanted for other crimes in other places across the state or the country,” he said.

Strengthening the ‘chain of custody’ with biometrics

Biometric Access Control Systems Help to Improve Evidence Management (Press Release)

How many times have Law and Order, NCIS, Dexter or some other crime drama aired episodes where evidence has “gone missing”? Most likely, it’s been too many times to count. Watching these shows and seeing racks of cardboard boxes in an unmonitored storage room leaves the average citizen wondering; is that how things are handled at my police station? The answer is, not anymore and things are improving all the time.

Property and evidence control and tracking causes enormous concerns in law enforcement. The process for tracking evidence has typically consisted of manually filling out property forms, which may lead to errors and inconsistent chain of custody records. 

This stainless steel, wall-mounted, computerized kiosk houses a biometric ID reader for access verification and touch screen user navigation. LEID Products chose Advanced Kiosks to build their BACS Systems because of the durability, ruggedness and quality of its state-of-the–art kiosks which meets the high standards required for BACS Systems.

This is a great application of biometrics to law a enforcement identity management challenge.

Google and Facebook have better Face Rec than the Police

Revelations In Online Facial Recognition (Police Oracle)

Ground-breaking biometric research has shown that the freely available facial recognition search engines used by social networking sites such as Facebook and Picasa are as accurate as some specialist biometric systems sold to government agencies, such as police forces.

First, the above linked article is extremely interesting and I suggest you read the whole thing. I just don’t share the author’s surprise at the research results.

Here’s why:

Facebook and Google (Picasa) have way more money than police departments and they can use facial recognition to make more money still.

Facebook and Google grasped the return on investment facial recognition offers them much earlier than Police departments. That isn’t surprising either.

Unlike police, Facebook and Google face almost no labor cost in collecting facial recognition information. Their users do all the work for them leaving the companies to concentrate on processing the information. Police labor is expensive.

Also unlike police, Facebook and Google can (and do) change their terms of service to accommodate what they want to do. Police don’t get to write, much less change, their terms of service (the law) regarding how and what information they collect and how it can be used.

Facebook and Google face technology isn’t free. In fact, having acquired, Facebook has sent notice to customers that in the near future they will have to look elsewhere for facial recognition help.

Google and Facebook are for profit tech companies. Police departments aren’t.

I suspect that Facebook (maybe Google, too) is applying much stronger data tools in its facial recognition efforts — tools that police can’t use. To understand why it is important to realize that a simple facial recognition search of all the photos on the Facebook or Google servers would be pretty close to useless. The ‘book simply has far too many faces. Based upon the image quality and the high number of photos, there would be far too many false positives resulting from a “brute force” matching effort. I’ll make an educated guess that the reason Facebook gets the facial recognition results that it does is that it uses its (highly proprietary) knowledge of its users to limit the face rec search only to people that Facebook already believes have a significant likelihood of actually knowing each other. If my assumptions hold, police would have to have a Facebook-like awareness of the population in order to achieve Facebook-like facial recognition results.

Given the above, it would be astounding/shocking/alarming (substitute your own descriptor) if Google and Facebook weren’t better at facial recognition than are police departments.

Police to get UK-wide facial search capability

PND: Facial Search Upgrade Being Introduced (Police Oracle)

The chief officer pointed out that the move will allow specialist officers and staff to input the photos of suspects into the database – and check matches across the UK.

Once they are compared to the custody photos logged in the PND a number of matches, each with their own percentage success rate, would flash up.

“Obviously some investigations will still be needed by officers themselves after the matches come through,” said CC Barton, of Durham Constabulary.

The above linked article is very good. I recommend it highly. Then, if you’re still interested in facial recognition, large databases and law enforcement, you might want to check out the two posts below where we discuss how the technology fits into police work.

(Facial Recognition vs Human) & (Facial Recognition + Human)

Canadian border guards want face rec

Thai Cop Mannequins – Now with face recognition

Thailand to introduce smarter police manikins for traffic control (FutureGov – Asia)

‘Police Sergeant Cheoy’—Police Manikins whose name means ‘Still’ are widely used and positioned at critical traffic locations in Bangkok as part of an effort to alert and remind road commuters to respect traffic regulation.

The new and smarter version of Police Sergeant Cheoy is equipped with new technology of hidden CCTV network with facial recognition system to detect driver faces, and car identification number more efficiently.

Some good photos of the ‘Smiling Traffic Police’ are here.

Benghazi: US uses face rec to confirm that suspect held in Tunisia was present at attack

US officials ID’d Libya attack suspect on surveillance video, sources say (FOX)

Ali Ani al Harzi and one other suspect were detained at an airport in Turkey in the days after the attack while travelling with false documents, and Harzi now has been identified as being present at the attack using the images obtained from the consulate compound video, Fox News’ sources say.

Harzi was transferred to Tunisian custody, but U.S. interrogators so far have not had access to him, much to the frustration of American authorities. Even so, U.S. intelligence agencies have confirmed through facial recognition technology that the Tunisian was present the night of the consulate attack.

“Rapid” DNA: Not super rapid. Still really cool. More steak than sizzle.

FBI eager to embrace mobile ‘Rapid DNA’ testing (PC Advisor)

It’s been the FBI’s dream for years — to do near-instant DNA analysis using mobile equipment in the field — and now “Rapid DNA” gear is finally here.

Really!? Near instant? Mobile equipment? Are FBI agents are running around with hand held DNA devices that give instant feedback?

Not really.

According to the article, “…[T]he Rapid DNA device can spit out an individual’s DNA data within 90 minutes… measures about 27-by-24-by-16 inches, costs about $245,000.”

Compared to other biometric deployments, this isn’t particularly rapid or mobile.

Though I’ve made some sport with rapid DNA in the past, there are some applications where only DNA analysis will do and the applications that government bodies have in mind for “rapid DNA” don’t exactly lend themselves to breathless reporting or Gattaca* references.

First, the FBI wants faster and cheaper DNA analysis to help clear cold cases where the state possesses DNA evidence by comparing the DNA of arrestees with an evidence database.

We discussed this very point with Mike Kirkpatrick in a recent twitter Biometric Chat.

Q4: Then, if the Big Three of biometrics are Face, Finger/palm print & Iris – Where does DNA fit in?

A4: There’s an ongoing multi-agency effort on rapid DNA, which will put a “quick” DNA capability at the booking stations. We should see this in the market within the next couple of years. It’ll help solve alot of cases. DNA in many ways is the ultimate biometric but still has many privacy issues associated with it as well as the past relative slowness in getting results. It can prove someone innocent as easily as proving someone guilty, which is good as all in criminal justice should be searching for the truth. [ed. formatting edited to de-twitter the Q&A]

Then, there are other government ID applications where only DNA will suffice such as this one, having to do with immigration and whether certain individuals are related by family, described in a very interesting Computerworld article from about a year ago (blog post here).

One pent-up need for a rapid DNA analysis kit is coming for the Department of Homeland Security’s citizenship and emigration services, according to Christopher Miles, biometrics program manager at DHS.

The uncomfortable realization that the government might be wasting a huge amount of time reading fraudulent documents and listening to lies was a lesson learned a few years ago in trying to help refugees in Kenya that wanted to emigrate to the U.S. In that instance, the U.S. government took about 500 DNA samples, did a lab analysis to verify family relationships, and found out 80% were fraudulent, Miles said.

If all you have is a DNA database or if you need to find out if two people are related, DNA is the only biometric modality that can help. In these cases, and compared to what went before it: 90 minutes really is fast; $1,500 per transaction (a guess) really is cheap; and something the size of a microwave oven really is mobile.

*The article’s author, while suspected of the former, is innocent of the latter. As for Gattaca, I enjoyed the film but I can’t believe it was released fifteen years ago: October 24, 1997.

Biometrics in Jail Management

Richmond County jailers like new fingerprint technology (Augusta Chronicle)

In July, a faster fingerprint system called RapidID was installed, and heavy-duty wristbands began being used. Both have been helpful in preventing the wrong person from being released, and catching criminals claiming to be someone else.

In January, Devontae Romeo Roberts was released by mistake when he switched wristbands with another inmate, Brett Corey Counts. Roberts was found two days later and re-committed with additional charges.

Keeping the wrong person from being released is a big biometric application in jails, but it’s hardly the only one. Prisons also dispense medication, keep track of hours worked and run commissaries.

Law Enforcement fingerprint biometrics data quality and ROI

Anonymous donation puts biometric scanner in LPD’s tool box (Laurel Outlook)

This is another one of those occasions where a local newspaper — this time in Laurel, Montana — provides great insight into the real contributions biometrics can make to an organization’s efficient operation.

It’s not CSI television magic. The machine doesn’t analyze and match prints backed by a catchy electro-industrial soundtrack as seen in prime-time police investigation shows. But, it does dramatically reduce processing time, helps to eliminate human error by comparing the slap to individual prints and offering prompts for correct information, and electronically transfers the file. “It allows us to capture all the prints and information we’d put on a fingerprint card,” said Wells.

Part of the scanner’s appeal is its ability to capture prints under less than ideal conditions. The scanner glass platen is topped with a patented silicone membrane. This allows the capture of high-quality images from a wide cross-section of people, including those with very fine, worn, scarred or cracked fingerprint ridges and varying degrees of skin moisture content, with minimal pressure. The result is less distortion and more accurate, high-quality images.

“As good as our officers are — and we print a lot for the public and criminal processing — the fingerprint cards do get sent back,” said Musson. “There are so many things that go on with fingerprinting: too darkly inked, too oily, too dry. This should alleviate that.”

FBI Face Rec in the News

The story is all over the news, but I like this cnet piece best because Charles Cooper plays it straight and gives a concise history of how we got here.

Privacy hawks fret as FBI upgrades biometrics capacities (cnet)

The computer revolution arrived late at the FBI, which was still collecting and matching fingerprints in 1999 in much the same way that it did when the agency first began collecting the images in 1924. But that’s been changing lately and privacy hawks are watching closely.

As the millennium neared, the agency finally traded in its manual system for one in which a database of fingerprints and associated criminal histories could be searched and updated. Now, the next step.

We first posted on this subject here in March, 2011.

This is the post that deals with some privacy and technical aspects of the issue in more detail. I highly recommend it (even if I do say so myself). Ultimately what is permitted in the name of law enforcement is, and should be, a political decision.

You may also be interested in our recent twitter “Biometric Chat” with Michael Kirkpatrick. Mr. Kirkpatrick was the FBI’s Assistant Director in Charge of the Bureau’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division from January 2001 – August 2004. He led the Division through profound IT changes especially relating to the application of biometric technologies to the challenges of law enforcement and the curent initiative under discussion here would have been under his purview.

ID Isn’t Perfect. How Perfect Can (or Should) It Be?

One in Six Sex Offenders Lives Digital Double Life (KCEN-TV)

Still, she said it’s important that states move to biometric identifiers, such as fingerprints, to maintain more accurate records of offenders and their whereabouts.

“Criminals are constantly thinking of ways to beat the system,” she said. “The system is never going to be perfect.”

Rebovich is hoping the study will spur new methods for checking up on sex offenders, including techniques that would seem familiar to those who work in financial fraud. In a model developed by Utica and ID Analytics, offenders could be given a score, similar to a credit score, which would rate the likelihood that identity manipulation was occurring.

The article covers a lot more ground than it is fair to copy and paste. It also begs important questions.

Given that ID management perfection isn’t an option, what approximation of perfection is desirable?
What costs are worth bearing?

The Utica College Center for Identity Management and Information Protection is to be commended for their work.

If you’re here, you’ll probably want to read the whole thing.

See also:
Utica College Center for Identity Management and Information Protection
and Biometrics “Fix” Identity – Even if there is fraud in the identification process, biometrics can be used to fix a single identity upon an individual.

Early Adopter Invests More Deeply in Biometrics

PCSO expands portable scan technology to deputies

The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office announced it is expanding the use of mobile, multi-modal (iris, fingerprint and facial) biometric identification technology used by deputies.

Patrol deputies, detectives and SWAT members will be able to verify the identity, criminal background, and risk information of suspects with a hand held, wireless device on a Smartphone. Sworn deputies will have iris, fingerprint and facial recognition identification technology available to them virtually anywhere.

Pinal County has been an early adopter of biometrics and BI2 has obviously done a great job of supporting them.