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The Region : SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ENTERPRISE : Cognitech Thinks It's Got a Better Forensic Tool : The firm uses complex math in video image-enhancing technology that helps in finding suspects.

September 05, 1994|KAREN KAPLAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"This technology used to be directed mostly toward scientific pursuits, but with the decline of aerospace industry, more and more attention is being given to law enforcement and public safety issues," said Terrance Montonye, technical director of the International Society of Optical Engineering, which for the first time included a session on law enforcement technology at its annual meeting in July.

About 10% of the country's 15,000 to 17,000 law-enforcement agencies are large enough to easily afford the nearly $10,000 it will cost to buy the Cognitech software and the computer equipment to run it, said Craig Fraser, associate director of Police Executive Research, a Washington, D.C. think tank. He said more departments will enter the market as the price of computer hardware drops.

Rudin said Cognitech plans to lend its Police Video Workstations to the Los Angeles Police Department and nine other departments around the country early next year for a six-month trial. He said he expects to bring the product to market at the end of the year.

That is not soon enough for Faye Arfa, a lawyer who successfully defended a client against charges of attempted murder and robbery with the help of Cognitech imaging analysis. Its analysis of video from a convenience store camera contradicted the account of an eyewitness against Arfa's client.

"It's a significant breakthrough and a very useful tool," Arfa said. "It would be a real asset to be able to have this technology available on an everyday basis."

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