Daytona Beach police utilizing facial recognition to capture suspected criminals

Since 2011, crime analysts have matched 18 suspects with surveillance videos

By Allison McGinley - News Director

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - On CBS dramas like "Criminal Minds," "CSI" and "Person of Interest," it happens in seconds. A couple of key strokes and crimes are solved and lives are saved.

It may not happen that quickly in real life, but new technology is improving the chances of getting the criminals.

"I will tell you I don't go into medical records and I can't do it as fast as she does," says Jackie Flory, a crime analyst at the Daytona Beach Police Department.

But what crime analysts can do with new technology helps detectives and can protect people of Central Florida.

"It does help them (get) one step closer to the bad guy," said Flory.

Flory is using a program developed by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office called "FACES" or Face Analysis Comparison Examination System.

It matches the face of the criminal gathered from surveillance video to a potential suspect.

"It basically focuses on the algorithms between the eyes, the nose, the mouth," said Flory.

The program sifts through nearly 30 million photos from Florida from mug shots to driver's license pictures and offers up potential matches.

"That's where the human aspect comes in where I literally have to look at it," said Flory as she explained, "you have to match up scars, you have to match up nose, mouth birthmarks."

A woman accused of bank fraud in DeLand wasn't the first match Flory found, but the culprit was listed several mug shots down the page.

"You can tell by the facial features, but you can see the dimple was more prominent," said Flory. 

Since getting the system three years ago Flory's success rate has climbed; four matches in 2012, nine in 2013, and already five hits this year.

But it's not always easy, like one case from 2012. When surveillance video from a bank was unusable in FACES, she turned to another piece of evidence left behind by the suspect.

"I had them send me a photo of the fake ID and within minutes I figured it out," Flory said.

"This is him, the hair color is different, the beard is trimmed, but if you look the mouth is crooked the nose," described Flory as she explained how the system compared the two faces.

When the photos were overlaid, they were a perfect match.

It hasn't happened yet, but Flory is hoping eventually the technology will be able to help her match a sketch.

Right now the FACES program only pulls from photos in Florida. Flory says she's heard the FBI is working on putting together a national database, which would improve her chances of helping detectives not only solve robberies and fraud cases but also missing persons cases.

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