Sheriff’s Department gets computerized fingerprint machine

Published 11:15 pm Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On Wednesday, correction officers with the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department received training on how to operate the department’s new computerized fingerprinting machine.

The machine will offer the department the ability to correctly identify people being booked into the jail with minimal effort and also add new fingerprints into a national database.

Chief Deputy Shane Tucker said the $22,758 machine was funded with a Mississippi Department of Homeland Security grant that Pearl River County Emergency Management Director Danny Manley secured.

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As a representative of the company that installed the machine gave the correction officers a rundown of how to use the inkless machine, it was evident how easy it could be to use. The machine uses a real-time scanning system to detect and record fingerprints. Instead of ink, the machine requires only a small amount of water or lotion to be added to the finger to acquire the fingerprint.

The prints are then sent electronically over a secure network to the Mississippi Criminal Information Center in Pearl and also the national database maintained by the FBI. Those fingerprints are then stored on the Automated Fingerprint Identification System and are accessible by any agency with the same system.

Tucker said the new system also will allow criminal investigations to utilize another weapon to identify potential suspects. Using a latent print left a crime scene, the department can send it to the Mississippi State Crime lab who can get an identification, if that print is already logged in the AFIS system.

Arrested individuals who officers think are providing them with false identifying information or refuse to provide any identification can also be identified with this system, Tucker said.

Using this system will help reduce the margin of error that ink-based systems have, usually caused from smudging. Tucker said a smudged print is usually unusable to identify a suspect.

“There’s errors that could be made with ink prints,” Tucker said.

Tucker said the new system is designed to be error proof and to be easy and fast to use.

Manley found out about the need of the Sheriff’s Department to acquire one of these machines and took the initiative to apply for the funding, Tucker said. Manley said he would like to thank Mississippi Homeland Security’s Director Jay Ledbetter and Deputy Director Byron Thompson for their assistance in securing the grant.

“I’m glad that on such short notice the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security could find funding for this worthwhile need,” Manley said.