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CCRB Considers Using Photo Editing Technology To Enhance Police Officers' Photos

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Pressure from a Bronx family may lead to changes in the way the Civilian Complaint Review Board goes about identifying officers accused of misconduct. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.

Civilian Complaint Review Board complainant John Brown says plainclothes officers arrested him two years ago in East Harlem and roughed him up.

He went to the CCRB and was shown photos, but he couldn't identify the officer he says assaulted him.

"The photos were currently, they were clearly outdated "Like, you can tell those are rookie photos when they first got of the academy. I can't really recognize anybody with a photo of them day one. People change. People get skinny, people gain weight, people lose weight, people gain facial hair."

He told CCRB investigators that the officer had a beard, but he says that not one of the photos showed officers with facial hair.

CCRB says the police department only provides pictures of well-groomed officers in uniform. The New York Civil Liberties Union says that can be a problem.

"If you have a complainant who had an encounter with a plainclothes officer, often times, just by virtue of their attire, they are going to look very different," said Christopher Dunn of the NYCLU.

The CCRB is considering whether to use photo editing technology to enhance or change officers' photos.

"I have sat through CCRB interviews where people have been shown photographs, and they sort of think it's the person, they sort of think it's not," Dunn said. "But often times, those photos are years out of date, and if there's something that we can do to make those photos more up-to-date, that would help complainants."

Technology can change or enhance photos. For example, the picture of me at left can easily be changed to make me look older with gray hair and a beard.

The CCRB says that the New York City Police Department updates its photos every five years or when officers are promoted. The agency says it identifies officers in about 95 percent of investigations, but that still means in hundreds of cases, officers are not identified.

"What we're after is honesty and the truth of what happens out in the street," said John Brown, the father of the complainant. "We're not trying to find any officer and put this on them."

The Brown family says they're fighting to get the NYPD to take updated photos every year.

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