Software means quicker cop sketches

And Cheaper, Too

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

By Gina Kenny

The group of 25 students studied an enlarged picture of a face at the front of a classroom and then tried to recreate a realistic likeness of it.

The pupils were not students in a drawing class but police detectives.

And, the pupils were not using a pencil and sketchbook but a new computer software program to re-create the face of Osama bin Laden on their laptops.

The detectives learned all about IQ Biometrix FACES software Friday during a daylong training session at the South Suburban College University and College Center in Oak Forest.

Investigator John Zadelek of the Cook County Sheriff''s Department Training Academy soon had a fairly realistic depiction of bin Laden staring back at him from his laptop screen.

"This is very easy," Zadelek said. "This is the first time I saw it," he said about the program.

The exercise came at the start of training on the software. The beginning exercise was meant to show how user-friendly the software is, said Louis Savelli, vice president of CTS Associates and a sergeant with the New York Police Department''s Terrorism Interdiction Unit.

The software allows departments to obtain an accurate facial composite of a criminal or suspected criminal without having the expense of a sketch artist, said Detective Fred Nowaczyk of the Cook County Sheriff''s Police.

"It is 1,000 times faster than someone doing it by hand and it seems to be more accurate," Nowaczyk said. "You can change everything as you are going."

Detectives learned more than just the ins and outs of the software, Savelli said.

Savelli also instructed the detectives on how to get the most accurate facial composites based on better ways to get the information from the minds of witnesses and victims.

The detectives were instructed on the "cognitive interview technique which allows the officer to draw into the victim or witness''s mind to extract the image of the suspect," he said.

The program "will help investigators locate suspects and get descriptions of suspects out to other agencies," state police Trooper Scott Britnell said.

7-Eleven donated $5,000 to Cook County Crime Stoppers which worked with IQ Biometrix, based in Fremont, Calif., and CTS Associates, Inc., said George McDade, chairman of Cook County Crime Stoppers.

"It is a great investigative tool for them," McDade said. "It will give them the advantage of getting a facial feature out there to the community."

The donation of software and training will be much appreciated in Harvey, Detective Hollis Dorrough said.

"Usually, we use the Illinois State Police" for facial composites, he said.

Detective Bill Kinsella attended the training along with Sgt. Pat Duggan and Detective Ray Kelly from the Orland Park Police Department.

The program "is just another one of those investigative tools that help a victim or witness build a composite with us," Kinsella said.

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