Sketch software helping law enforcement catch suspects

By Jessie Degollado - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - The fight against crime is getting a high-tech boost.

New technology is lending a hand when it comes to solving crimes and it's done through new software that's essentially the eyes of the victim.

For 32 years, sketch artist Lois Gibson has been scratching out composite drawings of the faces behind crimes.

Working for Houston police, Gibson has helped solve more than 1,200 crimes, putting faces to the monsters that crime victims describe to her.

Now there are new tools that victims of crime everywhere can use to actually help bring their attacker to justice.

Computer programs allow victims to create a professional looking sketch of the criminal who wronged them.

 "I think it's important for people to realize they can be empowered to solve their own crime," said Greg Micek, president of IQ Biometrix.

Micek is the president of a company that sells Faces, one of the computerized sketch programs already being used by thousands of police agencies worldwide.

"We have a database of 45,000 images of eyes, noses, ears, that we've had drawn so when you build a sketch, you're building a sketch just like a sketch artist would," said Micek.

Another website called Ultimate Flash Face gives the user different choices of face parts to create the suspect's face.

Rania Mankarious, executive director of Crime Stoppers, calls this sketch software an invaluable new tool in the war on crime.

"I think anything a victim can do, or any eyewitness can do, to help solve a crime is extremely important and I would say ‘yes, use it,'" said Mankarious.

Even Gibson, who believes human sketch artists are irreplaceable, feels this software can really help if victims use it right after the crime.

"When the face is fresh, just do a little mock up from a free computer program," said Gibson. "I think that's actually an excellent idea."

The Faces program was used on the TV show America's Most Wanted and has already helped put 10 different suspects behind bars.

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