Local News

Wake Authorities Go High-Tech With Photo Line-ups

Posted October 13, 2003 4:20 a.m. EDT

— If you believe what you see on television, then you probably think police still do live line-ups of suspects to solve cases. In reality, law enforcement agencies in Wake County are using the latest technology to help witnesses finger suspects.

Gloria Sutton, who works with the

City/County Bureau of Identification

, uses a computer program to match the physical characteristics of the suspect with more than 100,000 pictures in the CCBI database.

"I try to go with the height [and] the length of the hair. There's a lot of things you have to consider when you pick out somebody," she said.

Minutes later, she has an eight-photo line-up that investigators can show to witnesses.

On television, investigators are seen doing line-ups in a room with an one-way glass, but the lineup room at the Wake County Public Safety Center is not even used. In fact, it is part of someone's office.

"We do them nearly every day, every other day," said Maj. Thomas Matthews, of the Wake County Sheriff's Office.

Wake County law enforcement agencies request as many as 80 line-ups a month from CCBI. Investigators say the process is quick and efficient.

"Sometimes, we get 17 at one time. If there's a major crime, we do line-ups all day long," Sutton said.

Photo line-ups can be an important tool in solving a case.

"The main point is to make sure the line-up is fair and not biased in favor of law enforcement or anyone else to that matter," Matthews said.

"You want to do it right. You want it, so it will hold up in court. That's the main thing," Sutton said.

CCBI technicians said there are hard things to match for line-up purposes such as neckties, glasses, unique hairstyles and smiles.