Thursday, January 11, 2007

Who ARE These People??

Have you ever wondered how anyone is identified from artist renderings or surveillance photos? The drawings are truly composites with maybe one feature bearing resemblance to the actual person. I don't blame the artist for this. It's not easy compiling an accurate portrayal from confused and frightened witnesses.

Surveillance tapes are often little better. Grainy and usually angled to the extent there's little to give a clue. The above photo is actually a pretty good one. You can see the faces. They are forgery suspects in both Spokane and northern Idaho according to the accompanying stories. What the stories do not contain is any type of description. There surely are witnesses who saw them. Does the man have a goatee? Is it graying? How tall are they? What color is their hair? What color are the clothes they are wearing?

When I am out and about I don't look at people wondering if they are wanted by the police or if I should recognize them for any reason. I usually do note when people smile, but that's as far as it goes.

It's strange. On TV they usually give a vague verbal description then send you to their web site. Do you bother or remember later? Here the print media has a crack at making it meaningful. Think about how our little Shasta Groene was found. She was recognized. Her picture, and a good one, was everywhere and it became ingrained in everyone's mind.

I wouldn't expect that degree of exposure for every suspect character the police might be looking for but give us a break and give us something to work with. I don't know how much of a description the police provide the media but the media has to do better than this if the public is to help.

No comments: