Deputies Praise Quick ID Checks With Portable Fingerprint Scanners


Even in the increasingly computer-reliant field of law enforcement, the MorphoIDent portable fingerprint scanner is being hailed as “the next step in helping to fight crime” by King County, Wa., Sheriff Steve Strachan, says the Seattle Times. The device allows cops in the field to take two images of a suspect’s fingerprints, which are transmitted, via Bluetooth, to the deputy’s in-car computer, where they are then run through King County’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), a database of more than 700,000 prints taken in the county.

Within 30 seconds the device will show whether a person’s fingerprints are on file, either as a wanted person or as someone with a criminal record. “When I first started using it, (suspects) didn’t believe it was real,” said Deputy Ryan Abbott. “Even the guys who lied about their names say, ‘That’s cool’ and ‘I didn’t think it would work.’ ” MorphoIDent is made by Virginia-based MorphoTrak. Sheriff’s Office leaders have been so happy with the results that they have ordered six more. Identifying criminal suspects — or ruling out the innocent — in the field can be time-consuming, if not impossible, for law enforcers. Suspects often give false names and back them up with realistic fake IDs.

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