Thursday, March 23, 2006

Pulled Over In Kansas Get Ready to Show Your License, Registration and Fingerprints

BENITA Y. WILLIAMS / The Kansas City Star | March 23 2006

If you are stopped by police in Kansas, don’t be surprised if the officer pulls out a little black box and takes your fingerprints.

The gadget allows officers to identify people by fingerprints without hauling them to the police station.

Over the next year the Kansas Bureau of Investigation will test 60 of the devices with law enforcement agencies around the state. State officials said similar tests are being planned for New York, Milwaukee and Hawaii.

“This is definitely new,” said Gary Page, Overland Park Police Department crime lab. “It’s been talked about, but as far as I know they are not in use anywhere in the metro.”

The tests in Kansas are part of a bigger $3.6 million upgrade to the KBI’s statewide fingerprint database, unveiled Tuesday by the KBI and Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline.

¦ The system:

Called the Automatic Fingerprint Identification System, it is a statewide database of more than 10 million fingerprints taken from people arrested in Kansas. The Missouri Highway Patrol maintains a similar database. Both systems link to the FBI fingerprint database.

¦ How it works:

In Kansas, 54 law enforcement agencies have traded the ink-and-paper fingerprinting method for biometric imaging, which electronically scans a digital image of the print. Sixty Missouri agencies use biometric scanning. Police also can scan the fingers of corpses and people they arrest to match them against prints in the system. Results are obtained in seconds instead of hours. The inked cards still used by some smaller departments are also scanned into the statewide systems.

¦ Why upgrade?

Kansas could no longer locate replacement parts or anyone to service the old system, which was launched in 1990 and upgraded in 1998. The first phase was funded with a $752,000 homeland security grant. The KBI is applying for similar grants to pay the balance. All upgrades should be completed by January 2007.

¦ The portable devices:

Police place a person’s two index fingers on a screen. Wireless technology sends the image to the database for comparison. Prints scanned in the field will not be stored.

¦ What else is new:

The system will analyze palm prints, which were stored but could not be read before. The system also will store mug shots and pictures of scars, tattoos and other identifying marks.



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