Hennepin County, Minn., Sheriff's Department to use mobile identification tools

The ability to capture fingerprints and match then at a crime scene will soon be possible for the sheriff's department in Hennepin County, Minn.

The U.S. Justice Department's Community Oriented Policing Service program recently awarded the county $1.5 million to establish the nation's first trial of the Identification Based Information System developed by Minneapolis-based Digital Biometrics Inc. (www.digitalbiometrics.com).

The company's system includes a handheld remote data terminal that captures fingerprints and photo images at the scene that can be transmitted to an Automated Fingerprint Identification System database and the FBI's National Crime Information Center 2000 database. If a match is found, the system returns the individual's name and date of birth directly to the handheld unit.

The department will begin using the new equipment in mid-April. Officers are enthusiastic about the safety — for the community and themselves — the new identification technology will bring, said public information officer Roseann Campagnoli.

"They very excited about it because it should makes their lives safer out there on the streets and the community safer as well," Capagnoli said.

Hennepin County Sheriff Patrick McGowan said the technology will provide officers with real-time access to information.

"We now have the ability to identify individuals — with probable cause at the scene — evaluate the data returned and determine whether the individual has a criminal history and/or any outstanding warrants," McGowan said.

The availability of that information at crime scenes will help officers "determine the level of risk the individual poses to the community" and will save the department time and money, McGowan said.

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