Lincoln police can now search for bad guys using the state's face recognition technology.
The state has used the technology for years to prevent people from getting multiple driver's licenses under different names, said Tom Casady, the city's public safety director.
Now local police trained by the state can use the same database, Casady told the Lincoln City Council last week.
Police can compare video images from a crime -- someone passing a bad check or using someone else's credit card, for example -- with the 4 million pictures in the state database of Nebraska driver's licenses, state ID photos and mug shots from jails across the state.
They also can look for the identity of someone booked into jail who refuses to give a name.
The city did try to identify a man involved in a bank robbery using the state's system, but the effort was unsuccessful because the man had a bandage on the side of his face, said Casady.
The state's technology did help to identify a disoriented man who showed up at a Lincoln emergency room, said Betty Johnson with the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
On television crime shows, the technology always works perfectly, said Casady.
It's not so easy in real life, he said.
The image has to be a good, frontal shot in order to use existing facial recognition technology, Lincoln Police Chief Jim Peschong said in a telephone interview.
In fact, drivers are asked to smile only slightly, not grin, for driver's license pictures to get the best image for facial recognition purposes, said Johnson...
Nice touch, Betty. Telling us the story about the disoriented man at the hospital being identified. And then telling us not to smile when you take our Driver's License picture. Never mind that you and your buddies will be monitoring us constantly from now on.