'A nice turnaround'

With its Joint Automated Booking System, the Justice Department has hit

"a significant milestone" in a plan to set up a nationwide, cross-agency

database of arrest information, according to Linda Burek, the department's

deputy assistant attorney general for information resources.

"We feel good that it is in production. We're doing bookings and getting

a nice turnaround" on information, she said.

Currently, the Drug Enforcement Administration bureaus in Florida are

the only groups filing arrest data with JABS, where the DEA has launched

it as a test program.

With JABS, she said, fingerprint identification that typically took

six to eight weeks to process can now be turned around within two hours.

In some cases, officials got a positive ID in 30 minutes, she said.

Field agents transmit arrest information from the local level to the JABS

repository, which forwards it to the FBI's integrated automated fingerprint

identification system for a match against those on file.

The JABS database eventually will include mug shots and other identifying

information, said Brian McGrath, JABS program manager. Ultimately, Justice

would like to have federal officers be able to access the data via handheld

computers, putting information immediately into the hands of field agents.

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