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Washington police praise mobile fingerprint scanners


Washington state’s King County Sheriff’s Office has started using MorphoIDent pocket-sized scanners by Safran Morpho to instantly read fingerprints of suspected criminals.

They are so pleased with the results of using three devices originally ordered, they have ordered six more, as reported by the Seattle Times.

Sheriff Steve Strachan told the Times the technology is “the next step in helping to fight crime”.

The device takes two digital images of a suspect’s fingerprints, then transmits those images via Bluetooth to the computer in the police car. The prints get run through King County’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), against the database of more than 700,000 fingerprints. Within half a minute, the device will indicate if a person’s fingerprints are on file as a wanted person or someone with a criminal record.

“The mobile machines allow the officers to stay on the streets and they only capture two fingers,” said Carol Gillespie, program manager for King County AFIS.

In response to privacy concerns of fingerprints being collected, Gillespie has reassured that the portable machines do not keep the fingerprints on file.

Biometric Update reported last month of Arizona police testing out the same MorphoIDent devices.

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