Our department has several officers taking mug shots with a digital camera and the photos are all cropped differently. This has left us with a large database of mug shots that are inconsistently cropped and framed. Can we share these mug shots with other local, or national departments? Or with AFIS submissions?Answer:
Whenever you have an officer taking mug shots that is not aware of the NIST best practices, there will be slight framing issues that can go against NIST guidelines. If your department takes mug shots this way, just go back and compare your mug shots for the last 1 to 3 months, or more, to see how much they differ from officer to officer. This will enable you to see what we are describing.
We use software with pan-tilt-zoom features and our mug shots still come out inconsistent from officer to officer. How do we correct this to follow the NIST best practices?Answer:
With this type of system, you will almost always have inconsistencies because of how one officer interprets how his, or her shot is going to be framed. If Officers are trained on how NIST says mug shots should be framed, this will help with consistency.
How does our department find out if the Webcam that we use meets the NIST standards?Answer:
Most Webcams that are being used are very low resolution and don’t have much functionality and are not NIST compliant. The minimum number of pixels for any electronic digital image shall be 480 pixels in the horizontal direction by 600 pixels in the vertical direction. Image quality will improve as the number of pixels in both directions are increased. You must also realize that when you increase the number of pixels, the file size also increases.
What file format should mug shot images be saved as to follow the NIST best practices, as well as share images with AFIS submissions? And what should the size of the file be?Answer:
JPEG file format and the target file size should be 25,000 to 45,000 bytes.
Is our cinder-block background wall within the NIST guidelines?Answer:
Your background wall must be 18% gray with a plain smooth flat surface. Many departments that have cinder block wall backgrounds simply add drywall, or plywood to cover the cinder blocks to solve this issue.
Our background wall is painted blue, can we still send our mug shots along with AFIS submissions?Answer:
Yes, but a lawyer could use the differences in your mug shot to NIST-compliant mug shots to make the line up identification inadmissible.
We use a height chart on the background wall and our arrestee holds up a case ID chart under their chin while being photographed, is this acceptable according to NIST?Answer:
No, the person being photographed should be the only thing in the photo. Nothing else should interfere with the person’s image.
Why is it that many of the celebrity mug shots we see on YouTube, The Smoking Gun, Newspaper, or on TV all look different? None are framed the same way and many have different color backgrounds, or different shades of gray?Answer:
Many of the departments that are taking the mug shots are not following, or are not aware of the NIST guidelines.
Why are the NIST standards not mandated by the Federal Government, or by our state?Answer:
Good question. The Federal Government and several states are trying to get a better handle on this issue because they realize the importance of standardized mug shots as an investigative tool. We believe that the State and Federal Government sees that the problem stems from the variety of methods, cameras and software that departments and agencies are using to take their mug shots and hasn’t developed an overall solution at this point.
Hunter Systems Group, Inc., 5 Bound Brook Court, Scituate, MA 02066, Phone 877-256-1346, Fax 781-313-8126