New technology to assist Augusta authorities in crime fighting

Instant identification will soon reduce some of the headache that Richmond County sheriff’s officers are feeling in the field. It’s just one of the technological advances coming to the county.

 

Lt. Jimmy Young said the sheriff’s office was selected for a grant of more than $21,000 from Homeland Security to obtain the Mobile Biometric Fingerprinting Identification Systems. He expects the grant to buy six to 10 scanners.

Although the scanners have not yet arrived, some officers got the opportunity to use scanners belonging to the Georgia Department of Corrections during a three-day crime sweep with the agency last week in Augusta.

“It’s a great tool when you have someone who’s trying to be deceitful and has no ID,” said Capt. Scott Gay.

Four to five minutes after scanning a fingerprint on the device, which is slightly larger than a cellphone, officers can tell whether the person has a record.

Currently, officers have to take people to the Richmond County jail to run fingerprints.

Young pointed out that the new scanners will also come in handy when officers find themselves with an unidentified body.

The scanners are not the only technological updates in the sheriff’s office.

Investigators are still adjusting to a new computer system that shares databases in several counties.

Coplink, managed by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, links the databases of authorities in Columbia, Richmond, Burke and Aiken counties and North Augusta Public Safety.

Richmond County sheriff’s Capt. Scott Peebles said he expects to extend the program to McDuffie County.

“Before, if another agency wanted to get information or a picture on someone we’ve arrested, generally they would have to call us and ask us if we have the information,” he said.

The new system, however, will answer the question with a click instead.

“I think we are in a good place right now,” Peebles said of the technology. “We’re in a better place than we’ve ever been because we’ve spent a lot of time catching up.”

The sheriff’s office also might install about 100 cameras in the downtown area to deter crime, identify problem areas and catch criminals in the act.

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