A method and apparatus for identifying individuals for the purposes of determining clearance access or surveillance is characterized by enrolling an image of a person's face either voluntarily or secretly to be later used for comparison when the person voluntarily desires clearance or is covertly detected. The system can recognize or identify individuals regardless of whether the individual is wearing eye glasses or attempted disguises. In one embodiment, the system allows an authorized operator to enroll an image of a person through a facial scan for subsequent clearance access. The system records the camera positioning, captures an image, scales the image and records data from a region of interest within the scanned image to a database for later comparison. Enrollment data and the corresponding image information are then associated with a personal identification number assigned to the person. Upon presentment before the system, and entering the assigned personal identification number, another facial scan is taken of the person to be compared with the data from the regions of interest from the enrollment database of images to confirm the identity of the individual. In a second embodiment, the system operator injects an image secretly taken of an individual for later surveillance and identification. In a surveillance mode, the system automatically detects a person's presence, positions the camera through analysis of the image, captures an image, and then processes the image to determine if the person is enrolled in the enrollment database.