In the near future, Orange County law enforcement officers will be able to take fingerprints in the field through a county-approved program that will purchase mobile scanners from them.
While law enforcement officials say handheld scanners will streamline the process of identifying the people they arrest and detain, some critics worry that authorities have another tool to document information. biological, especially during large events such as demonstrations.
The million-dollar-per-year contract with Virginia-based InCadence Strategic Solutions will put around 450-500 devices in the hands of Orange County Sheriff’s Department deputies and city police likely by the next day. end of 2021, said Bruce Houlihan, director of the OC. Criminal laboratory.
“They are primarily for identifying individuals,” Houlihan said. “If they have been arrested in the past, their information will be in the system.”
Once the device – which looks like a large cell phone with a finger tip – is used, it compares the person’s fingerprints to previous arrests by local and state agencies as well as FBI and Department records. of Justice.
In some cases, the device makes it easier to identify people who are detained and who are not honest about their names, the sheriff’s sergeant said. Dennis Breckner.
“The way it works now…. we put them in the car, we get as much booking information as possible. We take their fingerprint card, take them to jail and execute the card… and see if the person’s name comes up, ”he said.
“It will eliminate that need.”
Houlihan said the process of purchasing the devices and determining the number of devices for each branch is still ongoing. The agencies will decide on the distribution of the scanners.
These devices are not new. The Anaheim Police Department has been using similar BlueCheck mobile fingerprint devices for the past 10 years or so. The Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department also used BlueCheck devices as early as 2008.
The Orange County Board of Directors unanimously approved the program on August 25. The meeting encountered some objections from the public, fearing the scanners would be used during the protests.
“This will strengthen the state of police and surveillance,” said a man who identified himself at the meeting as Patrick C. “How is it that those detained cannot take their fingerprints? digital when reserved? “
“We not only need to focus on spending money on more police services, but also understand how that money spent affects these communities.”
Chad Marlow, senior advocacy and policy adviser at the ACLU, said the devices add to the way authorities use people’s physical traits to identify them and possibly be able to track them.
“Maybe it’s the fingerprints today, maybe it’s the facial prints tomorrow,” Marlow said.
“There should be a very, very high standard for the government to collect biometric data from anyone and people should have the right to move around anonymously in society,” he said.
But law enforcement authorities insist the technology will only be used on those who are already legally required to identify themselves to law enforcement.
“There were concerns that due to possible protests this device would be used to arrest and detain everyone who was at a protest and that is simply not the case,” Breckner said. “We must have a legal intention and a legal need to detain someone.”
The scanned fingerprints will not be stored in any database, Houlihan said.
“It is not a reservation device,” he said.
If the person has not been arrested in the past and has not submitted fingerprints, the scanner will not find a match.
According to county documents, the devices will be paid for by a $ 1 fee on all vehicle registrations in Orange County, collected by the state Department of Motor Vehicles and distributed to counties.
The $ 1 million per year contract with InCadence Strategic Solutions is in effect for three years and is renewable for another seven one-year terms.