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Police and Law Enforcement Home  Law Enforcement Technology  >  Instant ID in the Field


Instant ID
in the Field

Police and Law Enforcement News
Tuesday, December 12, 2006 2:05 p.m.

The best arrests do not come easy. 

The best criminals are careful and have backup plans.  If stopped, their backup plan is often claiming to be someone else.


For departments with a little extra cash to spend, those days are over thanks to a new device by a company Sagem-Morpho.

From the Associated Press:

With a quick imprint of a suspect's two fingers on a handheld device, Columbus police can get instant access to an individual's identity without a trip to the booking office.

The department announced Monday it is testing 40 of the RapID wireless units it purchased recently for about $3,000 each using a federal Homeland Security grant.

Police say the new technology saves time by eliminating a trip to a downtown booking station. Typically, it would be used to check the identity of someone without proper ID who uses a name police suspect is not real.

A person might not necessarily be arrested as a result of the check, but could be issued a summons or citation depending on the reason they were questioned. The system checks the fingerprints against existing prints in a Columbus police database, which includes about 250,000 entries.

If the system gets a match, the officer will receive the person's real name, date of birth, gender and race.

Taking a suspect whose identity is questioned for fingerprinting can take more than an hour, a drawback on busy shifts when police are needed on the streets, said Beth Owens, project manager of the Columbus police department's Automated Fingerprint Identification System...

...It will cost about $20 per month per unit for cellular phone contracts used to operate the devices, which are made by Tacoma, Wash.-based Sagem Morpho Inc.

The devices take advantage of the rapidly expanding biometrics industry which allows for fingerprint identification on everything from laptop computers to cell phones.

The cost of fingerprint sensors alone have dropped from about $100 to about $5, said Yanak.

Owens said a positive match is only a first step for an officer using the device, which she emphasizes is simply another law enforcement tool.

"I tell all the officers, 'If you have a hit, the most important thing for you to do is call and get that hit verified,'" she said.

Of course, civil liberties groups are not happy with the device, but with proper controls in place and clear rules for when it may be used, even they may warm up to it.

Police and Law Enforcement News
Tuesday, December 12, 2006 2:05 p.m.



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