116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Cedar Rapids police said they have identified the officer depicted in an anonymous photo showing him apparently asleep in a squad car. But there is still some disagreement among local experts as to whether the photo was entirely real or somehow electronically manipulated.
The person who took the photo hasn't come forward to offer any explanation yet. But Sgt. Cristy Hamblin, a department spokesperson, said police commanders now know who is shown in the picture.
"We have determined who the officer was, so it's really a moot point whether it's been 'Photoshopped' or not," Hamblin said. "We'll take it at face value.”
The term “Photoshopped” refers to a specific computer program that many professionals use to make electronic changes and corrections to pictures. It's something graphic designers and company art directors use routinely. It can be used to alter reality, such as swapping heads on different bodies.
Several workers at Henry Russell Bruce, an advertising and creative services agency, looked at the mysterious police officer photo. They used the Photoshop program to view it from a number of angles and blew it up in size repeatedly. Creative Service director Steve Erickson said one problem in finding any digital trickery was the low quality of the photo. It's the size, and quality, usually associated with cameras on cell phones.
“I would not be able to tell you one way or the other,” Erickson said. “I have my suspicions, but it's one of those cases you see so much on the internet you suspect of being manipulated, and with tools like we have it is easy to do.”
One graphics designer pointed out original electronic photos carry hidden data giving the type of camera and other technical information. If you have that, it's easier to see if something was altered. But that was stripped away from the photo sent electronically to police and the media on Thursday.
Sgt. Hamblin said because what happened is an internal personnel matter, the department can't say what the now-identified officer has said about the photo. They also won't share his identity or say if he's spoken with commanders yet about the matter.
As for any potential departmental discipline, that could vary quite a bit too.
“It can range from a verbal reprimand, written reprimand, day off -- technically, they could be fired for it,” Hamblin said. She also said “it's going to have to depend on a lot of variables.”
Whatever results from any internal investigation, the results are not likely to be made public. Sgt. Hamblin said if an employee of any private company gets disciplined, those details aren't usually shared with co-workers. The same rule applies to police officers.