The Carver County Sheriff’s Office shared on social media Oct. 31 that it had rolled out a new mobile fingerprint identification system. On Facebook, the post garnered around 600 likes/reactions and over 70 comments, some of which expressed confusion and concern about how this technology would be used.
According to Carver County Sheriff Jason Kamerud, the technology was introduced as part of an “employee-led initiative.”
“One of the deputies did the research and took the information to the Labor Management Committee for consideration,” Kamerud said in an email. “There have been a handful of instances where we’ve used equipment from nearby agencies and we’ve recognized that there are benefits to having the equipment in-house.”
Kamerud said the technology would be used when they are engaged in a criminal investigation and a subject is “unable or unwilling to provide credible identification”.
“It scans the print and connects via secure cellular service to a fingerprint database, where it compares the scanned image to known fingerprints in the database,” Kamerud said.
The sheriff’s office uses equipment from DataWork Plus. According to Kamerud, it works “similar to the fingerprint technology used to unlock many smartphones” and costs “just under $6K for the two units, client software and training” .
One device is used for east end operations and one for west end operations. Kamerud noted that “not all deputies are trained to operate the equipment,” but that there is someone 24/7 on every shift who is.
The social media post detailed a recent case in which an individual was pulled over for a driving violation and did not have a driver’s license or photo ID. The name and date of birth he provided were not on file, so MEPs used fingerprint scanners to precisely identify the suspect who had avoided arrest over an outstanding warrant.
The device does not store prints or add data to the database,” Kamerud said. “It compares the unknown print with known ones in the database. subject does not match any of the known prints in the database, we will not have an identification and will need to use other investigative methods to accurately identify the subject.
According to Kamerud, each case is specific and “there is no telling one way or the other what would happen if someone refused to be fingerprinted.”
“The deputy can use other means to identify the party or the subject could be taken into custody and brought before the court if the circumstances warrant arrest,” Kamerud said.
Kamerud encourages those with questions or concerns about the technology to attend a citizens’ academy with local law enforcement agencies to witness the operations firsthand.
“If they show up with an open mind, I think they will find their local police are doing the right things,” Kamerud said.