- 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
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
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.