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HPD Runs Fingerprints From the Street

A new high-tech crime fighting tool is getting
an experimental tryout in Houston.

Rod Rice reports that police can now run
fingerprints of possible criminals on the
street and get a true identification in minutes.



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HPD used a federal grant to by 77 handheld devices that can check fingerprints against an HPD and FBI database of suspected or known terrorists, registered sex offenders and wanted persons. HPD Deputy Administrator Mike Barrow explains how it works.

“It uses Bluetooth and wireless technology to scan the fingerprints on the side of the road, to transmit those fingerprints in a secure fashion back through our databases for a search of known criminal offenders that we have previously handled and then return that information back to the officer within three minutes or less.”

HPD is the only police department in Texas to be part of this pilot program. It’s been in use here since the end of July and Lt. Steven Casko says it’s already been a huge success.

“We picked up someone on a traffic stop, had no idea he was lying about their name. They were wanted on a federal warrant and another warrant out of state. Picked up a number of parole violators, several robbery suspects that we know of.”

He says the device has also ID’s a murder suspect from another state.

If the fingerprint is in the system it may even show a picture. The officer then uses the computer in the cruiser to check for warrants. If the person is not in the system the device shows a green all clear.

Chief Harold Hurtt says this is not a way to collect fingerprints.

“If there is no hit on the subject the fingerprint is then discarded from the system.”

HPD hopes to increase the number of devices to 163 next year.

Handheld thumbprint device

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