December 2022
Volume 22, Issue 14
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   December 2022
Face (Re)Cognition in Police Officers: Who Fits the Bill?
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Meike Ramon
    Applied Face Cognition Lab, Switzerland
  • Michael Vomland
    Criminal Investigation Department Neuwied, Germany
  • Markus Thielgen
    Rhineland-Palatinate Police University, Germany
  • Jeffrey Nador
    Applied Face Cognition Lab, Switzerland
  • Footnotes
    Acknowledgements  MR is supported by a Swiss National Science Foundation PRIMA (Promoting Women in Academia) grant (PR00P1_179872).
Journal of Vision December 2022, Vol.22, 3076. doi:
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      Meike Ramon, Michael Vomland, Markus Thielgen, Jeffrey Nador; Face (Re)Cognition in Police Officers: Who Fits the Bill?. Journal of Vision 2022;22(14):3076.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

  • Supplements

Accurate face identity processing (FIP) is a critical component of security professions, but unfortunately cannot be improved via training. While accuracy is a high priority, it is neither the only, nor most important performance measure. Passport control officers must process high-throughput information as efficiently as possible – accurately and rapidly. In scenarios with grave public safety implications, however, efficiency is not sufficient. Suspect surveillance and mass-data analysis in criminal investigations also demand processing ample sensitive material consistently over extended periods. Police agencies have sought to optimize operations through personnel selection targeting FIP abilities. Yet to date, the lab-based tests researchers have proffered neither reflect officers’ specific tasks, nor the efficiency and consistency critical to accomplishing them. Therefore, we aimed to benchmark the three most challenging FIP tests available, which are used for lab-based Super-Recognizer identification (Ramon, 2021), against two "work samples" — tasks developed in consultation with police practitioners to measure specific, situationally critical performance. We solicited participation from 390 police officers from Regional Police and Criminal Investigation Departments, yielding a representative sample of Protection Police Officers, Mass Data Analysts, and Search Unit Members who regularly employ FIP skills in their work. Data-driven analyses of officers’ FIP abilities revealed that work sample efficiency and consistency represented most relevant dimensions of variation, and accounted for lab-test performance. Furthermore, performance on either work sample was better predicted by performance on the other, than by lab-based test scores. This demonstrates the limitations of lab-based tests for applied settings and stresses the need for predicting police officers’ FIP abilities through contextually and practically relevant performance measures.


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