Police Identification System “Fingerprints” Faces (Oct, 1941)
Police Identification System “Fingerprints” Faces
FACES are classified like fingerprints, to index hundreds of thousands of portraits, in the criminal files of Los Angeles County, Calif. A ruled glass screen called a “physiogmograph,” applied to each photograph, enables experts to determine accurately such information as facial height and width, and the size and shape of nose and mouth. Characteristics also noted include position of the ears, height, weight, general build, and the color of hair, eyes, and complexion. Finally, all these items are ingeniously combined in a number-and-letter code symbol, such as 11/5 NUFCFLCHD, under which the picture is filed.
As a result, a victim or witness of a crimeâ€”say, a holdup â€”need not thumb through hundreds or thousands of photographs, which may serve only to confuse his memory. He simply gives the best description he can of the crook. This is translated into the corresponding code symbol, and perhaps as few as a dozen photographs answering the description come from the files for possible identificationâ€”all the “impossible” ones being automatically eliminated. As little information as the approximate height and one facial characteristic of a criminal may lead to his capture, although every added detail helps narrow the search.