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Q: Finding an old Identi-Kit ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Finding an old Identi-Kit
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: lisarea-ga
List Price: $10.16
Posted: 21 Aug 2002 13:26 PDT
Expires: 20 Sep 2002 13:26 PDT
Question ID: 57070
I'm looking for an old Identi-Kit kit. I am *not* interested in the
new software versions, but in the older, physical kits. These
consisted, I believe, of mylar sheets upon which various facial
features were printed, so they could be overlaid to create a full
composite sketch. I am specifically looking for the Identi-Kit brand,
manufactured by Smith & Wesson and used in US Police Departments. 

Ideally, I'd like that kind that was used I believe in the 1970s,
which consisted of photographs of the facial features, and thus
resulted in super-creepy sketches. However, I would be happy to locate
any physical Identi-Kit for sale.

Request for Question Clarification by huntsman-ga on 21 Aug 2002 17:00 PDT

From simple pieces of plastic that a kid could use, we now have
complex software on expensive laptops that even adults don't
understand. This is Progess? I have yet to see a piece of acetate that
runs out of battery power.

BTW, there's a scene in the 1968 movie "Bullitt" -- playing recently
on cable -- where Steve McQueen (Lt. Frank Bullitt) and another
detective interview a hotel manager in the lobby. They use an
Indenti-Kit to compose pictures of the two killers that entered the
hotel and shot Johnny Ross, the government's Mafia witness.

You can read more about the development of facial identification
systems here:

   The Crime Library
   Forensic Art

They sold the original Identi-Kit, and Smith and Wesson now sells
"Identi-Kit 2000" software:

   Smith & Wesson Firearms
   Facial Composites: Identi-Kit 2000

To find out if they still have the original Identi-Kit (not all police
departments are computerized), I left a voice mail message with the
following individual: he should call me back tomorrow.

   Art Frates
   Identi-Kit Division
   Smith & Wesson 
   2100 Roosevelt Avenue 
   Springfield, MA 01104
   Tel: 1-800-331-0852, ext. 289   
I will let you know what I find out.


P.S. - Just in case there's an Identi-Kit distributor close to you,
what state do you live in?

Clarification of Question by lisarea-ga on 21 Aug 2002 18:31 PDT
Thanks, Huntsman!

You're quite the busy bee, aren't you? Such progress in so little

I had checked S&W's website and didn't find any indication of old
stock being available, and I'd just assumed this was something one
would have to find at some kind of police station garage sale or
something, but it never occurred to me to actually call and ask.

I'm in Colorado, BTW. 


PS: When I first saw the name of the guy you left the message for, I
read it as Art *Frahm*, and thought I'd found my favorite fine artist
working for Smith and Wesson! Alas, though, it was not to be.

Request for Question Clarification by huntsman-ga on 23 Aug 2002 09:09 PDT

Bzzzz, Bzz, Bzzt! Man, my wings are tired from that detour into
Pakistan. Right now, this drone could stand a little more nectar and a
little less pollen, if you know what I mean.

I thought I'd come back and dance around the comb a bit before flying
back out.

I still haven't heard back from the S&W guy, but I've left another
message with him. I have also spoken with (and left messages for)
several of the investigative units in various Denver metro area police

Replies so far indicate that it's been many years since anyone used an
old Identi-Kit, and it's going to be tough finding one. Not all
results are in yet, however, and people have been most helpful.

One sheriff's investigator said they had not used an Identi-Kit in 12
years. Unfortunately, they just moved the department to a new hive and
have no idea where the old kit might be. He also said the kits were
not cheap: at the time they used it, he thought new ones cost over
$500. I don't know about you, but that's a lot of honey: if one is
available, would you accept a partial kit?

I'll let you know if I find any promising new flowers, but right now
it looks like it's time to get back to the old clover patch. That
Queen! What a slave driver.


Clarification of Question by lisarea-ga on 23 Aug 2002 13:22 PDT
Hi, Huntsman!

Of course, a full kit would be ideal, as I'm hoping to do family
portraits and identify various other suspects, so I do want the most
accurate likenesses I can get. But if you could find a kit that was
mostly intact, that would be OK, too, and much better than anything
I've been able to find.

Subject: Re: Finding an old Identi-Kit
Answered By: huntsman-ga on 30 Aug 2002 10:04 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

This answer may not be what you hoped to hear, but it's pretty

Smith & Wesson called me back. Here's what they had to say:

They do not make physical Identi-Kit "boxes" any more, nor do they
have any left in stock. The boxes have been completely replaced by
Smith & Wesson's "Identi-Kit 2000" computer software
When they were available, a new Identi-Kit box cost about $1,500.00,
and they were sold directly by S&W *only* to police departments and
other law enforcement agencies. There were no intermediate
distributors, and kits were not sold to the public.

Each box had a serial number that was registered with S&W at the time
of purchase. When a police department upgrades to the new computer
version, they must turn in their old Identi-Kit. Any old boxes that
S&W receives are destroyed for security reasons (this company policy
has tightened up considerably since 9/11/01).

Since the kit is no longer being manufactured, replacement parts are
not available, either.

Sadly, the official bottom line is that no old kits are available, and
there's little hope of finding one. I have not heard anything more
from local police departments, either.

The computer marches on.


Search Terms & Google Results -

lisarea-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Beautiful work, Huntsman. Easily worth ten times the asking price.

While this was not what I wanted to hear, at least now I can quit
looking. And when I look back on all the time I've spent scouring the
internet for one of these things, the service is invaluable. Now I
have more time for my many other pointless pursuits.

Thanks again!

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