Mobile fingerprint scanners to be distributed to OC law enforcement as part of new program

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Orange County Police and Sheriff’s Deputies will have the opportunity to take fingerprints in the field among people they arrest or detain, under a new approved million-dollar-per-year program unanimously last month by county supervisors without publicly discussing it.

The contract with InCadence Strategic Solutions, based in Virginia will provide 450-500 mobile fingerprint devices for the sheriff’s department to distribute to deputies and city police departments across the county. Officials did not say when MPs and officers will receive the scanners.

The deal was pushed back at the Aug. 25 supervisory board meeting by activists who expressed concern that it would be used to collect fingerprints from peaceful protesters, while sheriff officials say it won’t will be used only when laws are broken.

“This will strengthen the state of police and surveillance. Why is it that detainees cannot take their fingerprints when they are booked? [in jail]? ”said a commentator who identified himself as Patrick C.“ Why do we need a mobile service… why do we have to go and meet them there? ”

“Will the fingerprints of peaceful protesters be taken? asked another speaker who identified herself as Cally A. “What is the cost to what is supposed to be a free society? “

Privacy advocates have raised concerns that a lack of monitoring of law enforcement mobile fingerprints could lead to large-scale databases of unique biological identifiers of citizens, even when their identity is not in question.

Sheriff officials said mobile fingerprints would not be stored and would only be managed by those detained or arrested who are already legally required to identify themselves to law enforcement.

“The fingerprints will only be used for identity verification,” said Carrie Braun, spokesperson for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

“If people are otherwise participating in a demonstration, protesting peacefully, exercising their First Amendment rights, law enforcement cannot just walk around and try to identify individuals,” Braun said.

The system will search fingerprints from previous arrests, as well as California Department of Justice and FBI records, but not the California Department of Motor Vehicle fingerprint database, Braun said.

A sheriff’s sergeant said mobile fingerprinting will make it more efficient to book people for larger-scale arrests and can help prevent people from having to go to jail if they are given a quote.

“It’s like when we have mobile reservation teams. When we send assistant staff with a bus, and we call it a mobile reservation team, it makes the process more efficient, ”said Sgt. Dennis Breckner, a 23-year veteran of the department who now works in his public affairs division.

Fingerprints will only be sought when the law is violated, he said.

“Unless there is a violation of the law, we can’t just detain someone,” Breckner said.

“We want to make sure that everyone can exercise their rights,” he added. “Unless an unlawful assembly has been declared, none of these people will be detained,” although people would be detained if there was another offense, such as walking on a sidewalk or walking down the street at a distance. Red fire.

“Then this person, we could detain him. So in theory, at a large protest rally, we could arrest a lot of people, say if there is a declaration “of illegal assembly and people refuse to disperse,” Breckner said.

If a person is detained for an offense and does not say who they are, they would be under arrest and should be detained until identified, and mobile fingerprinting makes it easier, a he added.

“We have to have lawful detention” in order to take people’s fingerprints, Breckner said. If not, he added, “it is a violation of their Fourth Amendment rights.”

As part of the contract, InCadence will provide fingerprint scanners under the Javelin brand, as well as mobile phone software known as Ares to perform the searches. It is funded by a $ 1 fee on all vehicle registrations in Orange County, which is collected by the DMV and forwarded to the counties.

A review of the new contract found no clear provision preventing the seller from storing the fingerprints collected from the mobile scanners. When asked what guarantees there were that fingerprints would not be stored, Braun got no response.

Nick Gerda covers county government for Voice of OC. You can contact him at [email protected]

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