The Land :: www.TheLandOnline.com

Nuts & Bolts

June 19, 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
Nuts & Bolts
  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 24, 2014

  • Almost half of America's obese youth don't know they're obese

    The good news is that after decades of furious growth, obesity rates finally seem to be leveling off in the U.S.. The bad news is that America's youth still appear to be dangerously unaware of the problem.

    July 24, 2014

  • An oncologist uses scorpion venom to locate cancer cells

    Olson, a pediatric oncologist and research scientist in Seattle, has developed a compound he calls Tumor Paint. When injected into a cancer patient, it seems to light up all the malignant cells so surgeons can easily locate and excise them.

    July 24, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014

  • Afghanistan vet who ran to grenade gets Medal of Honor

    A former Marine Corps corporal who was severely wounded when he risked his life to shield a squad mate from a grenade blast in Afghanistan was awarded the nation's highest military decoration Thursday.

    June 20, 2014

  • May 2014 was the hottest may in recorded history

    According to new data released this week, May 2014 is officially the warmest May in recorded history.
    Both NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency have tentatively ranked May at the top of historical measurements, though NASA's numbers are preliminary because crucial information is still missing from China.

    June 20, 2014

  • Nelly-elephant.jpg Bet the farm: 5 'psychic' animals predict soccer victories

    Need some guidance on whom to place your bets for this year's World Cup? Since Paul the Octopus achieved a prediction success rate of 85 percent in 2010, hosts of animal oracles around the world have sought attention as soccer sages. Here's a look at a few of them.

    June 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Is the FDA waging a war on artisanal cheese?

    Is the Food and Drug Administration waging a war on artisanal cheese?
    The answer depends on your perspective. But this much is certain: The agency's answer to New York regulators about using wooden boards to age cheese has caused an uproar in the domestic industry and raised questions about the status of imported cheeses that use the same process.

    June 12, 2014

  • Texting while driving is latest teen risk as smoking declines

    While smoking among American teens has fallen to a 22-year low, most adolescents admit to engaging in a new type of risky behavior: texting while driving.

    June 12, 2014

Featured Ads
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
The Land's Twitter Feed