Police Test New Gadget
Police in Eagan, Minn., are testing a new crime prevention tool called IBIS (Integrated Biometric Identification System) designed to link fingerprints to those of known criminals. When a police officer uses the handheld IBIS unit to scan a suspect’s fingerprints, the tool links up with Minnesota’s criminal database and Hennepin County’s gang database to identify a person’s past criminal activities, all within minutes.
Eagan police are using just one of the 130 IBIS sets in the United States currently being evaluated in Minnesota, California, and Oregon, says Identix, the device’s manufacturer. Police and company officials say the tool helps police identify suspicion persons, even when they lack a driver’s license.
Identix notes that IBIS units have dropped in price from $14,000 to $4,500, and may eventually be distributed to all officers as more enhancements in mobile networking technology take place.
But Hennepin County’s chief public defender, Leonardo Castro, warns that the tool’s improper use could violate a person’s search and seizure rights; police and Identix say the technology is being used lawfully and also helps save time by allowing on-the-spot fingerprinting and identification.
Eagan police say IBIS is used only when other identification methods fail, including driver’s license and name, and fingerprints obtained through IBIS are not stored. Eagan Police Chief Kent Therkelsen says individuals must first consent to give a fingerprint before IBIS can be used, and not providing one is not grounds for arrest.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Saint Paul Pioneer Press (08/16/04) P. 1B; Prather, Shannon .