Qld cops with an eye for detail identify 1000 offenders
Chris Tritton can instantly recognise every face he's ever seen which is useful for two things in particular, winning arguments about which actor appeared in a film and catching criminals.
The Queensland police senior sergeant is a "super recogniser", a person with the ability to remember faces they saw years ago.
While most people can remember a limited number of faces, it's believed just one per cent of the population possess this extraordinary capability.
About twenty people working in the force are super recognisers and since 2019 have taken time out of each shift to help identify offenders.
So far they have caught 1005 suspects - and counting.
Police looking to identify a person first cross-check an image through a specially designed database of 10 million faces which narrows it down to about 300 people.
Members of the Super Recogniser Network then take a look.
Senior Sergeant Tritton gets a "gut feeling" when making an identification and later looks for points of confirmation, such as eyes and ears because those features don't tend to change with age.
The remarkable skill was discovered by accident in the past 15 years when scientists researching the neurological disorder prosopagnosia, also known as "face blindness", discovered there were people on the other end of the spectrum.
"It's a skill you're born with," Sen Sgt Tritton explained.
"We would have arguments at home about who an actor was, I was always right!"
Officers have identified people wanted for robberies, burglaries, sexual offences, cracked cold cases and even unknown road trauma victims left incapacitated by their injuries.
Super recognisers are increasingly being used around the world and helped identify suspects in high-profile cases such as the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in 2018 and the Stuttgart riots in 2020.
The Sunshine State's super recognisers took part in international testing in 2022 and were found to be the most accurate compared to 40 other organisations involved.
Many can still identify a person wearing a mask, which was handy during the height of the pandemic when authorities raced to track down border breaches.
"(They are) taking fighting crime to the next level," Queensland Assistant Commissioner Brian Swan said.
"Being recognised globally for their special skillset is not only a testament to their talent but also to their dedication and commitment to solving crime and keeping our communities safe."