ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – They say a picture is worth a thousand words. With a career in law enforcement spanning 30 years, Vincent Russo knows a thing or two about the value of good pictures when trying to identify a suspect.
When families flip on the news at home and see a police briefing about an ongoing case, they will often hear a vague suspect description. In the absence of surveillance video or pictures, composite sketches can be key to solving crimes.
“You’ve got to say, ‘What’s going to capture people’s attention’?” Russo said. “Because that’s the whole point of this. We’ve got to get this out there. And we want people to look at it.”
Russo worked with both the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office and the St. Augustine Police Department. He and his wife, Amber, launched their company called FaceLogics five years ago. Russo helps 120 police agencies narrow down the suspect pool right from a computer.
Russo’s artists work remotely from home. They help create photo lineups, allowing for a more neutralized image to assist in investigations. In one example shared with News4Jax, Russo revealed a suspect’s old driver’s license photo. Russo’s artist was able to make the blue background darker, and remove the woman’s earrings. Russo says this process allows for a viewer to now focus on what the woman looks like.
“How are you going to put them in a lineup to where they’re not sticking out for the wrong reasons?” Russo said. “You want them to stick out, in a sense, for the right reasons. That’s what they look like.”
Composite sketches are big for the company as well. Russo showed News4Jax several composite sketch images.
“These were actually solved due to somebody seeing the subject and looking at the composite and going, ‘Wait a minute, is this the guy?’” Russo said.
With his artists working remotely, Russo said, they can get to work on a composite right away. Chief Barry Fox with the St. Augustine Police Department said that’s important because time matters.
“He can sit down on the computer with the victim and create a sketch of that individual that night while the memory is fresh,” Fox said. “Which means that we’re able to be proactive in our efforts almost immediately.”
FaceLogics can also make enhancements to surveillance footage so a suspect’s face or vehicle can be more easily recognized.
The company can also create facial reconstructions. These can be utilized in cold cases. The results speak for themselves.
Russo primarily works with police departments in Florida and some in Georgia. The hope is to expand beyond that.
To learn more about FaceLogics, click here.