The Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office has begun using a new technology within the confinement center designed to help identify and track gang activity. A select number of confinement officers now have access to the Gang Graffiti Automatic Recognition and Interpretation (GARI) system.

The system was developed by the Purdue University Video and Image Processing Laboratory and is based on a program originally designed to assist first responders translate the warnings and codes displayed on hazardous materials placards.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Visual Analytics for Command, Control and Interoperatibility Environments Center of Excellence (VACCINE) funded the project, which has been rolled out to over a dozen agencies across Indiana. The program is coordinated by the Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center (IIFC) and the Indiana Gang Network.

By using a smart phone with the application installed, an officer can quickly upload an image containing a tattoo or graffiti. Confinement Officer Kyle Roland explained how GARI works, “Images captured by an officer are uploaded to a central database. GARI analyzes, interprets and catalogs the images. The officer is then provided with information about the image as well as the physical location of similar or related images. The longer the system is in operation and the more images are uploaded, the more accurate and relevant the results will be.”

Sheriff Dave Wedding stated, “This technology presents a tremendous opportunity to enhance our ability to identify gang members within our facility and gather meaningful intelligence on their activities.” Sheriff Wedding added, “I would also like to thank Senator Jim Tomes for advocating the use of state resources in support of local efforts to respond proactively to the growing gang problem.”

Pictured above: Gang graffiti located in one of the jail housing units.