June 16, 2008

Sex offender check-in kiosks

New hight tech biometric check-in kiosk for sex offenders in Tacoma, WA. One of the savings is in fingerprint cards will no longer need to be printed which is costing the department $500 a month right now.


High-tech fingerprint help for Pierce County deputies
Grant for Pierce County law enforcement will cover fingerprint devices
STACEY MULICK; stacey.mulick@thenewstribune.com
Published: June 16th, 2008 01:00 AM | Updated: June 16th, 2008 06:42 AM

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department has received more than $1 million for new devices that will allow deputies to fingerprint suspects at crime scenes and sex offenders to check in with overseers via computer.

The federal grant of $1,192,508 was announced earlier this month. It’s a one-time award given out for technology improvements, said Steve Wilkins, forensics supervisor for the Sheriff’s Department.

The grant: The money comes from the U.S. Department of Justice’s COPS technology grant program. The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services doles out grant money and resources to law enforcement agencies.

The Sheriff’s Department originally asked for $1.5 million. The department will have to tell COPS what the money was spent on and what the devices were used for, Wilkins said.

The Sheriff’s Department will use its grant money to buy Rapid Identification devices, a kiosk for sex offenders and an archival retrieval system for fingerprints and palm prints.

Fingerprint devices: The department aims to buy 40 Rapid Identification (RapID) devices. Each one costs $4,000, Wilkins said.

The devices will be put in patrol deputies’ cars.

How they work: A deputy will have a suspect place his or her right and left index fingers on small biometric scanners. When the deputy hits the send button, the suspect’s fingerprints will be electronically compared to the fingerprints of known offenders in the Sheriff’s Department’s database. If the fingerprints match a previous set, the deputy will be provided information on who the person is, including criminal history, a photograph and physical description.

Police departments in New York City, Cleveland and Milwaukee are already using the devices.

Sex offender kiosk: The computer kiosk will be set up at the department’s office at the County-City Building in downtown Tacoma.

Sex offenders who are categorized as Level 2 or Level 3 and have to report to sheriff’s deputies every 90 days will be directed to the kiosk, Wilkins said.

How it will work: A sex offender will place his or her hand on a biometric reader. The computer will take the offender’s picture, find the offender in the system and ask the offender if the information and address is correct.

If the offender answers yes, the kiosk will print a receipt and update the database to show the offender checked in.

If the offender answers no, he or she will be directed to the front desk for more help.

The computer can also be programmed so that when deputies want to talk to certain offenders, they will be directed to the front desk for more assistance, Wilkins said.

Archival system: This will allow the Sheriff’s Department to make into digital records all of its fingerprint files and palm print files.

Officials will no longer have to print out fingerprint cards, saving the department about $500 a month, Wilkins said.

The new system will be housed in the forensics unit.

Stacey Mulick: 253-597-8268


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Posted by staff at June 16, 2008 11:32 AM