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Features

New Fingerprint Technology IDs the Bad Guys Faster Than Ever

Say goodbye to all that black ink and say hello to electronic imaging.

January 01, 2002  |  by Dan Burger

IBIS is currently being used at two California police departments — Ontario PD and Redlands PD — and in Hennepin County, Minnesota. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) conducted a comprehensive review on the policies and procedures developed for the use of IBIS, including privacy regulations and impact to officer safety, before granting approval for the full deployment of the system.

In the California deployments, officers use the handheld devices to fingerprint and/or photograph a suspect. This information is wirelessly transmitted to the central IBIS computer located at the police department, and then it connects to AFIS. The officer in the field is immediately notified if the suspect has outstanding warrants.

Fingerprint scanning capability while officers are on patrol is highly desirable, but dependable technology is just coming around.

A report released by Visionics after the first week of operation at OPD indicated IBIS was used 173 times in test and operational scenarios, returning 71 matches, including four individuals who gave false information to officers, against the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) provided by Cogent Systems. OPD procedures confirmed the information returned by IBIS and identified outstanding warrants against the individuals. Additionally, IBIS successfully identified a body found in an apparent suicide of an individual who had a prior criminal record.


Fingerprint scanning on patrol may someday eliminate the need to bring someone in for prints.

"IBIS is the only system capable of remotely transmitting photo and fingerprint data to deliver real-time identification information," says Lt. Bob Racine, system installation manager for the Ontario Police Department. "IBIS has dramatic safety implications for law enforcement as well as border control and airport security. We are extremely encouraged by IBIS' accuracy. Soon after IBIS' deployment, we saw the benefits of giving this tool to officers in the field."

Ontario was the first municipality to activate the IBIS system. The estimated cost of providing the project’s infrastructure, according to Visionics sources, was $150,000. This included such things as putting the communications in place, providing an interface to existing AFIS systems, the purchase and installation of the central server (a Compaq Proliant), and putting laptops in the squad cars. Five squad cars were outfitted including the handheld devices, which cost approximately $8,000 each.

The costs can vary depending on how much information is obtained via the handheld devices. The more information you want brought back to the officer, the more sophisticated the software needs to be and the more expensive it becomes.

The Ontario, Redlands and Hennepin County deployments were funded by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS) and is administered by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).

The Beloit (Wisc.) Police Department is using e-mail to advance the exchange of fingerprints among approximately 120 other law enforcement agencies in the state. Its live scan digital fingerprinting system was designed by Cross Match Technologies. According to the manufacturer, hundreds of thousands of fingerprints can be stored on the system, which then takes advantage of e-mail to cross-reference prints with other agencies. A $29,133 U.S. Department of Justice grant helped BPD get its system up and running.

POLICE magazine is eager to introduce a regular feature on Technology. You will find the latest news about products, people, companies and law enforcement trends. The focus will be on actual technological advances that are not only in use and on the verge of changing the way things get done, but that offer crime fighting and investigations advantages for cops on the street.

Not every department can be equipped with the latest and greatest tools, but we think it is worth showcasing the technological advancements that are within reach. You, in turn, can pass this information along to those in your departments and your communities who influence future planning.

We begin this month by examining digital fingerprinting devices that bring in-the-field identification to a higher level of efficiency and accuracy. In the following months you will find police-tested high tech products in areas such as communications, forensics, weaponry, information technologies, training and officer safety, and identification technology.

The application of these technologies will keep law enforcement current in a technology-driven world that is rapidly changing on all fronts.

Dan Burger, a former editor of POLICE, joins the magazine as a freelancer.

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Tags: Fingerprint Identification


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