February 16, 2012

Mobile Fingerprint Identification - What Is It And How Is It Used?

The Mobile Fingerprint Identification pilot project has been in use by the Santa Cruz Police Department since the fall of 2010.  The project is part of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System administered through the Sheriff’s Office.  The system allows officers to access local fingerprint records to confirm or verify identity.  So far, the system has helped to identify a number of individuals who have attempted to give false identification to officers.  In the last 6 months, officers have used the device 48 times and returned 26 hits on individuals.  Those persons usually have active warrants or parole and probation conditions they are trying to conceal.  The ability to quickly identify individuals in the field is incredibly valuable to officers.  With an increase in active parolees and probationers out of custody with AB 109 realignment, this tool is increasingly important.  

The mobile unit is used by officers to take a fingerprint at the scene.  The information is transmitted back to a server, via a secure cellular line.  The server then compares the fingerprint to existing files for an identification of the person.   The return includes a mugshot and identification information on the person fingerprinted.  The returns usually take 1 minute or less.  

The cost of the unit and cellular line are being paid by funds administered through the Remote Access Network Committee, established through SB 720.  These funds are paid via a $1 vehicle registration fee.  Future development will include access to statewide and Federal fingerprint databases.