Hennepin's system puts the lie to prevaricating suspects

Spot check: A Hennepin County sheriff's deputy demonstrates how to use the handheld IBIS unit to record a fingerprint.

Allen Brisson Smith

Before Minnesota's law enforcement agencies upgraded the Integrated Biometric Identification System last year, analysts at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension had to physically compare fingerprints captured by officers against database records.

Now the IBIS software from Identix Inc. of Minnetonka, Minn., has completely automated the matching, said David Freeman, IT supervisor for the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office.

Some police officers in Minnesota's Dakota County completed their IBIS training about 2 p.m. one afternoon and by 5 p.m. were back at work apprehending a suspected shoplifter.

The woman had no driver's license and gave the police several different names. The police scanned her fingerprints with a handheld IBIS unit. In less than three minutes, they learned that she had four arrest warrants out for shoplifting and giving false information to police.

IBIS' ability to identify people on the spot makes it a candidate for use by other government organizations such as Customs and Border Protection, Identix program manager Kevin Johnson said.

'There are so many potential uses for IBIS that it's an easy sell,' said Jerry Olson, project manager with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Before IBIS, officers had to 'assume that people gave the right name and go through the whole identification process to find out whether the information given was false,' Olson said. Now IBIS automatically pulls up the correct records, and 'it saves officers a lot of effort.'

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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