Cops Use DHS Money To Scan Fingerprints At Checkpoints

Courier Online
July 17, 2008

High tech gadget instantly reveals identities

Police officials are excited about a new high tech gadget that will make their jobs a little bit easier.

Through a Homeland Security grant, Los Angeles County purchased 500 mobile fingerprint scanning devices that can be used by officers in the field.

The device allows officers to identify people through their fingerprints who have previously been booked through the Los Angeles County penal system.

Roughly 200 scanners went to LAPD, and the rest were spread to agencies throughout the county. The Claremont Police Department only got one, but it has already been put to good use.

Police just picked up the machine last Thursday, and by Friday it helped them nab a potentially dangerous criminal. At a sobriety checkpoint on Indian Hill Boulevard, just south of the 10 Freeway, over 2000 vehicles were screened, resulting in 14 arrests. Two were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Among those stopped at the checkpoint was a man who told police that he did not have his driver license. His car was pulled off to the shoulder, where police asked his identity.

“He supplied a name that we ran a records check on that came back with no match,” Claremont Police Captain Jenkins said.

Claremont Police Corporal Chris Bradley then put the department’s new gadget to use for the first time. The man’s index fingers were scanned right at the scene and 5 minutes later, the police had the information they needed.

“We were able to pull up all his real information; his name, date of birth and all that,” Corp. Bradley said. “And then we saw that he had a no-bail parole hold.”

Albert Dominguez, 26, of Chino, was a parole violator out on murder charges. He is now in custody in Los Angeles.

“The nice thing about this is, we were able to identify him right there out in the field,” Corp. Bradley said.

Created by Cogent Systems, the device normally runs about $1000 each. Law enforcement officials hope to eventually have one in every patrol vehicle, Cpt. Jenkins said. In the meantime, Claremont police will have to share their scanner until more funding for additional devices is available.

Police believe they will be particularly useful at checkpoints where identifying unlicensed drivers is a constant challenge.

“There’s always a number of identification issues at the checkpoints so this will be a big help,” Cpt. Jenkins said.

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