Suspects have the right to refuse the scan, but deputies say if they have probable cause, they can still make an arrest and take fingerprints back at the jail. (WRDW-TV / June 14, 2012)
News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, June 14, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Deputies in Richmond County are now hitting the streets with some new technology: electronic fingerprint scanners. They are hoping to make the identification process in the field safer and faster.
The Richmond County Sheriff's Office received about $22,000 in grant money for 10 new Rapid ID scanners. The goal is to both identify people who have something to hide and eliminate people who don't.
Stephen Reneke, a project manager with Data Works Plus, helped install the scanners for RCSO on Thursday.
"The idea is that these are connected to the laptops [deputies] use in their car. It's wirelessly connected," he said.
The fingerprint is transmitted to the GBI database in Atlanta, and the results are back within seconds.
"So then once they get a 'hit' or a 'no hit,' they can come onto their laptop here and see the results," he said.
Reneke says deputies with more than 50 Georgia agencies are now using the devices to identify people who lied about their names or to rule out suspects without having to haul them into jail.
Some departments have also used the fingerprint scanners to identify dead bodies or people who are unconscious during a medical emergency.
"It names places a person's been booked before. They'll be able to see outstanding warrants. Parole and probation information and sex offender information," he said.
It's not a full criminal background, Reneke explained, but basic information for identification.
Lt. Jimmy Young with the Criminal Investigations Division added, "It won't be used on every person. But basically one of the primary factors will be when someone cannot produce identification and a deputy has a justifiable cause for your encounter with them, you're trying to establish their identity, and it appears that they're trying to mislead you as to who they are."
Suspects have the right to refuse the scan, but deputies say if they have probable cause, they can still make an arrest and take fingerprints back at the jail.
"We have been given some additional grant monies and actually have five more units that will be coming in the next several weeks," Young said.
They are hoping this new technology will streamline the process of holding the people they need to hold and sending the rest on their way.
There are 10 wireless scanners in the field and two more back at the jail. Two more will be at the entrance and exit of the jail as an added precaution when booking in and releasing inmates.