Attorney General Bill Lockyer, Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona and Agency Secretary Maria Contreras-Sweet Demonstrate Fast, New Photo Database

Cal-Photo Will Speed Identification of Criminals and Protect Officer Safety

Tuesday, March 26, 2002
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

(SANTA ANA) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer, Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona and Secretary Maria Contreras-Sweet of the State Business, Transportation and Housing Agency today unveiled Cal-Photo, a new tool developed to help law enforcement agencies identify and apprehend criminals and improve officer safety through the use of a statewide criminal and DMV photo data bank. The system is already in use by the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center and state-federal-local anti-terrorism task forces established after September 11. And, over the next several months, Cal-Photo will be made available to local law enforcement agencies throughout California.

"Cal-Photo is a breakthrough crime fighting tool that will allow law enforcement to quickly identify suspects and prevent crime," Lockyer said. "Instead of delays that allow suspects to slip away, law enforcement will have instant access to identity information to put criminals away." "Cal-Photo is a partnership between the State of California and local law enforcement agencies that will have a very real impact on our ability to fight crime," stated Carona. "The ‘instant-access' to photographs provided by Cal-Photo will be an invaluable tool for our investigators as they pursue dangerous criminals."

Secretary Contreras-Sweet added, "Anyone who has ever seen an officer checking a vehicle registration or a driver's license from a police car knows what a vital role the massive DMV database plays in law enforcement. The new Cal-Photo system will be a huge step forward in making DMVs photographic database instantly accessible to police agencies. We are delighted that DMV was able to work so closely with the Attorney General's Office to help bring the Cal-Photo system online. We're all part of the same law enforcement team."

The California Attorney General's Office, Department of Motor Vehicles, Orange County Sheriffs' Office and six other local law enforcement agencies have been testing the Cal-Photo system in a demonstration project over the past two years. While many local law enforcement agencies have their own internally accessible data banks of criminal booking photos, there has been no system in place allowing instant access to other criminal photo data banks and DMV's more than 32 million driver's license and identification photographs. Prior to Cal-Photo, in order to obtain photos from another agency, law enforcement would often have to make a written request, the photo would have to be manually retrieved, and it could take several hours to days for the photos to be delivered thus wasting valuable time. Cal-Photo will allow participating agencies to access suspect mug shots and other important information in a matter of seconds without delay.

Using a secure law enforcement website, law enforcement agencies use Cal-Photo to search for an image utilizing the subject's name, physical description, such as tattoos or scars, or one of the subject's identification numbers, such as a driver's license number or arrest record. If the inquiry results in a match or "hit" on any of these criteria, a screen display will be returned with an index of the possible matches. The index will include limited personal data record information about each possible match. The system will allow officers to quickly verify the identity of suspects in custody and obtain photos of criminals that meet the physical description of suspects.

The unique software for the system was designed and developed by state employees working at the Department of Justice, rather than private contractors, and will be provided at no cost to law enforcement agencies capable of using the system.

In addition to the Orange County Sheriff's Office, the following law enforcement agencies have been participating in the demonstration project: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office; Ventura County Sheriff's Office; San Diego Automated Regional Justice Information Systems; San Jose Police Department; Fresno Police Department; and Sacramento County Sheriff's Office. In the future, any authorized law enforcement agency with a connection to DOJ's law enforcement network can apply for access to the Cal-Photo System.

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