A hand-held piece of technology adopted by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office last year has dropped the identification of suspects to minutes, according to authorities.
“They’re a valuable tool,” Capt. Scott Gay said of the mobile fingerprint scanners. “They help
us ID folks who try to be misleading.”
The sheriff’s office bought 17 Rapid ID fingerprint scanners with a grant of more than $20,000 in June 2012. Two of the larger, hard-wired scanners were placed in the jail. The cellphone-size scanners are used throughout the department.
The sheriff’s office was the first local agency to adopt the technology.
Once a finger is scanned on the digital screen, police can have identification information in about a minute.
Police said they often encounter people who either refuse to give their identification or are deceitful about their identity.
In the past, a person who was booked into the jail with a false identity might not be caught for some time. When they were caught, it meant a mound of paperwork for deputies as they had to fix all of the incorrect files.
Sgt. Jimmy Young said the paperwork corrections could take hours, keeping a deputy in an office instead of out patrolling the streets.
“They save a ton of man-hours and extra paperwork,” Young said.
Sgt. Harold Hitchcock, of the special operations unit, said people will have second thoughts about lying once they’re told their fingerprints will be scanned.
Police said the scanners can also be used to identify a body or someone in a coma.
So far, Young said, the department has only used the scanners to confirm, not identify, homicide victims.
Because of the first year’s success, the sheriff’s office has purchased 10 additional scanners.
“As everyone knows, we work with limited resources and limited people to begin with,” Young said. “Anytime you can find a way to do things more efficiently, you should.”