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Stockton, California police testing mobile biometric identification system


For the past four years, the Stockton Police Department in California has been undergoing a trial program involving a new handheld device that scans fingerprints, irises and other biometric data, according to a report by Emergency Management.

The Mobile Biometric Device reads various biometric data in the field and transmits the information to remote databases to help investigators rapidly identify suspects and other subjects.

The technology could potentially change the way U.S. law enforcement agencies, military and Homeland Security operations process fingerprints and identify suspects, said Sandia National Laboratories, which is testing the Mobile Biometric Device through an interagency partnership with the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate.

Sandia National Laboratories is testing the devices in 62 different jurisdictions, with some researchers testing its iris and facial recognition capabilities.

Stockton police are credited with helping to pioneer an approach to using the device to process fingerprints in crime scene investigations.

“This is an example of the Stockton Police Department being involved in a partnership that allows us to use some of the best cutting-edge technology out there, and this is something that really helps us with investigative leads in near-immediate time,” said Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones. “Part of our vision here at the Stockton Police Department is to always look for technology that can help us better combat crime.”

Erin Mettler, the Stockton Police Department’s fiscal planning and research manager, said the device provides matches in as little as three minutes and as long as 20 minutes, resulting in an average response time of 10 minutes.

She added that while the device has been particularly useful in cases of commercial, residential and automobile theft, the device’s success in achieving potential matches is relies entirely on the quality of the image, which can be impacted by light and curved surfaces.

Mettler believes that the device could be used as a supplemental technology to fingerprint processing as opposed to a complete replacement for traditional methods.

“The more information we have on a crime scene, the better off we’re going to be,” said Mettler. “The potential matches we get as a result of using this device allow an investigator to identify persons of interest that they want to talk to. If there are no witnesses and no leads, this device could potentially provide that lead.”

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