Ca Sheriff To Scan Sex Offender Irises For Quick ID


The Alameda County, Ca., Sheriff’s Office will become the first public agency in the San Francisco Bay Area to force some convicts to submit to iris scanning, a strategy that may jump-start debate about how police should use a powerful and emerging technology, says the San Francisco Chronicle. Each human iris has a unique texture; its contours can be mapped in a searchable database. Proponents of the technology say it won’t replace fingerprinting, but that it offers a speedier and more accurate way to identify people – whether suspects at crime scenes or inmates being freed.

Authorities will begin scanning the irises of the county’s 2,500 sex offenders within a few weeks when they register during a move or when they check in annually as required. A sheriff’s department spokesman said the county is expanding its tracking of sex offenders in response to a recent federal law calling for building a national sex offender registry. The department wants to test the technology and prepare for a future in which many police agencies scan irises and officers carry handheld scanners. An officer might be able to identify quickly a sex offender or parolee who gives a fake name. An officer who received a complaint about a person annoying a child might scan that person’s eyes. Within seconds, the officer would know if the person was a sex offender. “We’re at the infancy of this whole thing,” the spokesman said.


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