SBI Develops New Hand-held Fingerprint Technology

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The State Bureau of Investigation has deployed a mobile fingerprint scanning application for local and state law enforcement officers that instantly searches state and national databases for a positive identification.

The process is simple. A suspect places his or her finger on a small portable device, about the size of a smartphone and the fingerprints become digitized and sent to the SBI’s Statewide Automated Fingerprint Identification System and to the FBI for a search of their databases for any matches.

The Rapid ID System allows law enforcement officers to capture fingerprints remotely using the mobile fingerprint scanner. An officer quickly receives the results of a search on the hand-held device. If a fingerprint match is made, the device provides a person’s name, photo (if available) and other relevant information allowing for a quick assessment of a potential threat level.

“All of this happens in seconds,” said Wyatt Pettengill, SBI’s special agent in charge of the Criminal Information and Identification section. “Once the fingerprint image is received at the SBI, the image is compared against the SBI’s entire biometric database and sent to the FBI for a search of the Repository of Individuals of Special Concern, a combination of many different FBI databases that house sensitive law enforcement information.”

Officers who participated in SBI’s pilot program saw how valuable the technology is in correctly identifying individuals who had given them fictitious information or who had outstanding warrants in North Carolina.

A national fingerprint search through the Rapid ID System also provides officers access to outstanding warrants in other states, national sex offender registry subjects and known or suspected terrorists. Several states are already using this remote identification technology and are experiencing great success, according to Pettengill.

“The SBI tries to provide its law enforcement partners with the most current, cutting edge technology in the effort to apprehend criminals and make North Carolina safer,” said Pettengill. “It’s an amazing investigative and officer safety tool.”

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