Hartsville Police getting access to SLED’s facial-recognition system
By Bobby Bryant, Editor
The Hartsville Police Department soon will be able to tap into SLED’s facial-recognition database of criminals’ mug shots, thanks to a decision by Hartsville City Council last week.
Council during its March 8 meeting approved a “memorandum of understanding” between the Hartsville Police Department and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division that will allow the HPD to access SLED’s “unique” Criminal Facial Recognition System at no cost.
SLED keeps an electronic warehouse of booking photos of people who’ve been through the law-enforcement system, said Hartsville Police Lt. Mark Blair. “If somebody gets arrested for something,” it’s in the system, Blair said.
“People tend to do the same type of crime over and over,” he said. “Odds are they’re in the system. … People who shoplift from stores in Myrtle Beach might shoplift from stores in Hartsville.”
Crime scenes often yield images from surveillance cameras that can be turned into screenshots. Up until now, Blair said, the Hartsville department has generally had to rely on putting out those videos and screenshots on social media, TV stations and in newspapers and hoping that someone will recognize them.
Once the department is able to run images through SLED’s database, the system can instantly search for likely or possible matches. “I think it will be a big help,” Blair said.
He said it likely will take a short time for the agencies to deal with the paperwork involved. “We couldn’t use (the SLED system) today,” Blair said last week. “It’ll probably take a few weeks.”