ARDMORE, OK--A picture is worth a thousand words and so are tattoos. The Oklahoma department of corrections is teaching area law enforcement the hidden messages behind specific tattoos.
All it took was one tattoo spotted during a traffic stop to help authorities in California solve a 4 year old cold case.
"He realized that the picture that was tattooed on his chest was the actual crime scene from the homicide in 2004 so he was arrested and convicted on homicide " said Melissa Townsend with ODC.
More than a hundred people showed up for Wednesday's tattoo seminar at the Carter County health department, including law enforcement from 5 different counties. Organizers said identifying a tattoo can help officers understand just who they are dealing with.
"A lot of officers need this training because we are seeing so much more tattooing which definitely means something, and the more they're educated the more they know what this means the more they know how to deal with the individual" said Judy Cavnar with the Health Department.
Melissa Townsend with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections said the seminar was designed to give area officials a working knowledge of criminal tattoos for gang identification, and to teach them to look for hidden messages within those tattoos that could help keep them safe.
"Tattoos mean a lot and the offenders that are in our system have tattoos that to the naked eye you might not understand what exactly they mean or where they come from, They hide very important things that symbolize their particular security threat or prison gang" said Melissa Townsend ODC.
Love County Sheriff Joe Russell said this information could protect his deputies and he will now pay more attention to tattoos.
"It was real interesting i think there was a lot of good points brought out that could help the officers out in the field and people dealing with the inmates and stuff" said Russell.
The seminar also covered officer safety and ways of detecting contraband.