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Fingerprint System Joins Police Arsenal

Checking an arrested person’s background now takes a matter of minutes instead of days with an automated fingerprint identification system unveiled Thursday by police.

Faster identification of suspects means quicker arrests and fewer victims, said Jim Conley, forensic supervisor.

“The ultimate benefit is we can properly identify people in a real-time basis--within a time period that’s useful to us,” Conley said. “It prevents people from slipping through [the system].”

The technology has already allowed police to identify suspects who have a criminal record in Anaheim. Many repeat offenders often lie about their identity, and about half of all those arrested do not have identification, police said.

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“The name of the game is trying to identify who we’re dealing with,” Lt. Ted Labahn said.

The booking system replaces fingerprint cards and ink. Fingerprints are now scanned into the computerized system and checked against prints stored in the department’s database. About 170,000 sets of prints are on file, but the system can store as many as 350,000, Conley said.

A digital mug shot system eliminates the need to use a standard camera and film and allows the department to electronically store the image with the arrested person’s fingerprints.

The Police Department is the first in Orange County to use the system, manufactured by Anaheim-based Printrak International Inc., Labahn said.

Anaheim has a seven-year contract with the company to lease the system for about $400,000 a year.

The next step, Conley said, is to connect the system with the department’s computerized criminal history records to prevent the need to enter information into two separate systems. Officials also plan to connect the system to state and federal criminal databases.


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