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DHS providing Texas law enforcement access to biometric database for pilot program


The Department of Homeland Security is providing Texas law enforcement with access to its massive biometric database through a pilot program, according to a report by Texas Public Radio.

For years, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) would uncover fingerprints from crime scene that would not find a match when compared to those stored in the FBI database, according to Patrick Nemeth, identity operations director at the agency’s Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM).

“So they would start querying the Department of Homeland Security to get access to our database, since we have 212 million people in there,” Nemeth said. “And a big chunk of those have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border on a regular basis.”

The DHS’ IDENT (Automated Biometric Identification System) database stores fingerprints, photographs, iris scans, and facial images collected from the country’s borders, points of entry such as airports, and several national and international partners.

From November 2016 to April 2017, the DPS has sent 200 crime scene fingerprints that led to two potential matches. One of the print matches is being used in an ongoing capital murder case.

The database is “potentially a powerful tool” for local and state authorities, the DPS said.

Just last month, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it was seeking to hire communications professionals to convey the often complicated message of biometrics to the general public.

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