HPD Using Wireless Fingerprint Technology to Help Identify Potential Crooks

August 26, 2009 - The Houston Police Department is the first law enforcement agency in the state of Texas to utilize a new crime fighting tool interfaced with the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ Repository for Individuals of Special Concern (RISC) database, which will enable officers to immediately check the true identities of potential criminals on the streets.

The Blue Check Mobile Identification Device and the Mobile ID II, manufactured by Cogent Systems Inc., will allow local law enforcement agencies to digitally scan fingerprints of persons under reasonable suspicion or arrestable charges, against the HPD’s and the FBI’s RISC databases, for criminal background checks.  Photos of both devices are attached to this news release.

Wireless Fingerprints  

On July 31, HPD began using five of the Mobile ID II devices that can scan fingerprints and get results back in three minutes or less.  Currently, 77 Blue Check devices have been linked to the FBI’s RISC database.  By 2010, HPD will have a total of 163 devices.  The devices were purchased under the Edward Byrne Memorial Grant.  Some of HPD’s investigative units - Crime Reduction, Gangs, Tactical Patrol, Field Operations and Investigative First Responders (IFR) - will be issued the devices.

Both devices are portable and wireless for officers out in the field.  The Blue Check device uses wireless Bluetooth technology, commonly found on cell phones.  The fingerprints from both devices are transmitted by wireless technology that allows officers to scan HPD and FBI databases for a match.  If a match occurs, officers are supplied a photo and offender demographics via the device or through the mobile data terminal inside their patrol cars.  Once the fingerprints have been checked and there is no match, they are immediately erased from the system.

Police Chief Harold Hurtt lauded the devices.  “They will enable our officers to immediately identify known wanted persons and, just as importantly, enhance officer safety and the safety of our citizens,” Chief Hurtt said.

"This is an example of DPS's commitment to provide Texas law enforcement and the citizens of Texas the latest technology to battle crime and enhance public safety," said DPS Director Steve McCraw. The FBI, Texas Department of Public Safety, and the HPD Identification and Technology Services Divisions were instrumental in making this technology available. For more photos of the event, click here.

For additional information, please contact the HPD Public Affairs Division at 713-308-3200 .

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