New Tech Finds the Face of Crime

Spotting suspects without ever leaving the station has become a reality for the Los Angeles Police Department (search).

New technology is helping officers make more arrests with less manpower.

“The software will actually bring the number of suspects down from several thousand to just a few,” said Steven Safari, vice president for sales for Neven Vision, a California-based company that specializes in comprehensive facial biometric analysis technology (search).

With cameras placed in parks and on city streets, Los Angeles police identify what may be suspicious activity and zoom in on the faces of the people involved.

Officers on the beat get to use handheld personal digital assistants with cameras that can access a complete set of mug shots. Police are able to take a picture of anybody on the street and then can match up the digital photograph to the faces in a database of gang and felony suspects.

“We're going to be able to identify who's wanted, not wanted, we’ll be able to eliminate people that are possibly wanted, identify gang members that weren't being able to be identified before,” said Matt Zeigler, an L.A. police officer.

Despite helping get some criminals off the street, the system has raised privacy concerns and some citizens say they're not comfortable with having police literally looking over their shoulders.

“I think that is very intrusive on people's characters and maybe it going to identify people into the wrong categories,” said L.A. resident Elizabeth Lewis.

Eric Olander, another Los Angeleno, said he saw an inevitability to the police department’s latest crime fighting tactic.

“It’s just the way the country is going with the Patriot Act (search). There's a lot of momentum and a lot of support across the country to compromise civil liberties and that’s sad,” Olander said.

Police officials said those concerns are misplaced, and that those who haven’t done anything wrong have nothing to fear.

“I have heard the argument that big brother's watching. The only message I can say is that as long as you aren't wanted, you aren't going to be downloaded into the system,” Ziegler said.

Click on the video box above to watch a complete report by FOX News' Adam Housley.