M4 CM HiSTOWftl REVIEW PROGRAM
TITUS: The Identi-Kit
AUTHOR: Herman E. Klmsey
VOLUME: 4 ISSUE: Winter
A collection ol articles on the historical, operational, doctrinal, and theoretical aspects ot Intelligence.
All staiements of fact, opinion or analysis expressed in Studies in Intelligence are those of
ihe authors They do not necessarily reflect official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency or any other US Government entity, past or present. Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implying US Government endorsement of an article's faciual statements and inierprclations.
Atutfomvcientific bag of trick* to conjure up the likeness of an urtknoum foot.
THE IDENTIKIT Ht-nnan E. Klrn.sey
One of the moat difficult problems to humanIs that of exactly duplicating In another mind the visual image one has In one's own. Language is not adequate to the Job: the range of variant concepts corTesponding to eachword, not to mention then* inevitable emotional and imaginative colorings, create inaccuracies, distortions, and downright false Impressions. Man has therefore had toto comparing such an image or its elements withcommon physical standards, which reach their ultimate precision to the standard units of measurement. Thisleaves no room for the vagaries of individual
This communications problem has always been particularly acute between the describers of absent persons and those whose Job It is to identify the subjectstbethe Identification world has therefore been using for moreundred years some system ofIndividual characteristics with physical standards. The rather startling Identi-Kit herein presented, whichet of such standards, must then be considered the productevelopment and evolution whose basic principles bare been thoroughly proven. The Kit itself is no untested orInvention: It has withstood continuous testing and retesttog for the past five years in both experimental and practical on-the-job applications. The Identification Process
The basic premise of all identification systems Is tbe fact that nature never creates two Identical Individuals. The problem Is to record the Identifying; characteristics and then to catalog them objectively In some system: by irhlchan be communicated from person to person and from place
to place. In Identification by fingerprints and other .annual means the recording Is done byhysical Impression of the characteristic features. Systems have been developed; to catalog and communicate these with accuracy. Butdo not always allow for tbe taking of thess" physical impressions.
Identification by facial appearance givesider range requiring as it does mere visual contact with the subject, if only we have some method to crystallize out of the fluid mem ory of the observer an objective image of the subject'sand some way to code or tabulate Its Identtfying characteristics. The Identl-Kit providesethod of re cording and cataloging. It has limits, however, short of posi live identification, limits inherent In human ability to observi and remember.
If every natural mark and lineuman face could t> visually compared with Its antecedent Image, complete an< positive Identification would be possible. Such positive identi fication is not practical because the human eye and brain even with minute observation of all the natural marks an< lineserson's face, could not retain the memory of theii exact location well enough toerfect image of it But given the impossibility of an infallible system of visua Identification, we can neverthelessractical andapproach to the identification problem through aof elimination. In this process visual comparison cangreat numbers of possible persons who fall to qualify for likeness to the subject sought, and so reduceew individuals, and frequentlyingle one The elimination process can begin with the gross physical features of age, sex, race, height, weight, build,ndfrom there to the finer distinctions of facial appearance.
It is In pinpointing these finer distinctions that we run into! trouble whenitness in order to build up an! Image of the absent person. And this is where the Identi-Kitl comes In The kitull-face linage up into component]brows, eyes, nose, lips, eh in-line with ears, and age fines, plus beard, bat,"and glasses, if any. It-contains several dozen transparent slides picturing each of these com-
with different types ofhoes in nil, with fire notches on the side for different placements 'ol each feature. Each slide is codedetter for the facialIllustratedigure for the particularThe witness isatalog showing all these slides and asked to pick out the brows, nose, chin-line,hich most nearly suit the person be saw.
The witness, not accustomed toair of eyes with the brows removedouth with no face around it, will find the going difficult at first. No matter: he will soon be able to study tbe whole reconstructed face and makeAs he makes his tentative selection of components the slides are assembledake-up pad and the composite image displayed. Is the nose too fat?onier one. Are the brows too prominent? Rearrange the pile of slides, putting the brows at the back and the eyes farther forward. Is tbe forehead too high? Slip the hair slide down by one or two from the normal third notch. Is the hair parted on the wrong side? Reverse tbe slide.
The witness is at last satisfied; be recognizes this man. It isinished portrait,ood line-drawing of the right type of person. howslose resemblanceell-known face can be assembled with the kit. In tbeperational cases in which the kit was used (bybe witness was able toble likeness of all but nine subjects. It took himrom five minutes to several hours, averaging perhapshirty minutes and an hour.
There Is one further refinement illustrated In Figurehere are moles or scars on the rememberedridumbered lines is placed over the composite image and the positions of tbe marks are noted in this frame ofhe scar gnd is shown in Figure 2.
One of tbe advantages of tbe kit Is tbe ease with which Its codingace to be recorded or transmitted to alocation through almost Instantaneous assembly from another kitace Is contained, for example, in the code message . r f.
which means "Age linesose slidewo notches below normal, chin and earyeiprowair slideeversed and one notch above normal, mole under right eye at verticalo beard, glasses, or hat."
The number ol such facial combinations that can be formed from the IdenoVKlt Is too astronomical to be conveniently
written. These assemblages are rather like passport or other' identity photographs in reproducing physical contoursut reflectinglthough they thus fail short ot portrait-type likenesses, they are sufficient when compared: feature by feature with known persons to weed out quickly'
all but oneew that each could represent. -! ;
We have been treating the kitolice device, but its* application In tateUigence Isn fact, that virtually every technique used to Intelligence is j
ume variationoliceelationshiphe Identity to many small countries of the police with the Intelligence service. Tbe ait wasroduct of intelligence effort later released for police use. and It Is being applied to an ever growing number of operational intelligence cases to the problem of Identifying the "third man."
The effectiveness of the kit, thoroughly tested by bothand the police, has produced startling results in areas where It has been properly applied. In fewer than one percent of police cases is It identification by fingerprints that leads to an arrest. In the several hundred Identi-Kit cases an record the kit has ledhoppingercent of the arrests. Most of these identifications were accomplished by cross reference of the witness's reconstruction with "mug" files of known criminals which were classified in the Identi-Kit system. This process was possiblef theases, with an average file search time ofeconds.
One must remember, however, that the Identi-Kit system Is not intended to supplant any of the identification systems in present use. It is simply an additional tool inpecial wrench that enables you to getormerly taaccessible spot and work there effectively. You still need your other tools, and you have tooodto the first place: the kit needs the controlkilled Interrogator, who can master this additional Instrument with the helppecial one-week course ofhild can make mechanical faces from the kit; but onlyand training can develop the right Images from the rnlnderson who had no particular reason to remember them until the questioning began, or perhaps does not want to remember them al all.
The potential uses and performance of the Identi-Kithave barely been touched upon to this articleflies must be developed and many operators trainedthe full benefit of the system will be apparent. But the intelbgence officer will feel the poweronjuror when he can take the codesace his agent has built up to the nearest telephone or communications center, notify afile of his problem, and get back the requiredcomplete with details,atter of minutes more than the communications lag.Original document.