Florida speeds fingerprints to FBI

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has begun distributing electronic fingerprint images and other criminal information to the FBI in real time.

The FDLE is using output from an automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS) to send the information based on new National Institute of Standards and Technology standards.

The system, developed by Anaheim, Calif.-based Printrak International Inc., captures, stores and distributes the information and has accelerated Florida's judicial processes by providing prompt background information on suspects at the time of booking. Before the new system was in place, court actions that relied on the accumulation of information took weeks to complete.

Many of Florida's law enforcement agencies are equipped with networked livescan fingerprint equipment that electronically captures all 10 fingerprints at once and formats the data onto a standard FBI card. The card then becomes part of a NIST "packet," which includes a suspect's description, charges and other information, all of which is transmitted to a NIST server at FDLE headquarters in Tallahassee.

"Printrak excels in fingerprint identification, and searching their database is what they do best," said Charles Schaeffer, FDLE's systems programs administrator. "We're real happy with the whole system. We've been fully electronic for about two years and are beta testing now with the FBI system to get them there by the end of the month."

The FBI and NIST have been developing data interchange standards for most of the decade and now plan for the FBI to accept electronic fingerprint data directly into its integrated AFIS in the near future. Currently, the FBI prints electronically submitted data onto paper cards.

The North Carolina Bureau of Investigation was the first to use the Printrak AFIS for interstate identification searches. State law enforcement agencies in Arkansas and Nebraska also are using NIST servers for intrastate transactions.

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