New technologies help police ID crooks

Print More

Capital News Service
LANSING — Be careful. If you have a criminal record, are pulled over by police and happen not to have a driver’s license, you might be identified in a minute through a mobile fingerprint device.
And someday your body odor and voice may be near-immediate give-aways of your true identity.
So called biometric technology, including fingerprint recognition, is not something new since it’s been used since the 1980s.
But the 1-1/2-year old Biometrics and Identification Division of the State Police makes Michigan the first state to have a separate office working on criminal justice biometrics.

A Senate-passed bill now waiting for House approval would define biometric data as fingerprint, palm print, digital images taken from a suspect at the time of arrest and other physical characteristics such as tattoos and scars.
Jeremy Slavish, director of the division, said it now uses biometrics for criminal identification through recognitions of fingerprints, palm prints, mug shots and DNA.
“Whenever suspects are arrested, law enforcement officials will collect those data, and those data goes into the database, which later on could be compared and used for criminal recognition and identification,” he said.
Slavish said that biometrics is important in combating crimes.
“Criminals are known for being untruthful, and they have a motive to hide their identity. So it’s up to law enforcement to find out who they really are and find out if they may be wanted for other crimes in other places across the state or the country,” he said.
“In this world of post-9-11, the process of identifying and verifying that people are who they say they are is extremely important.”
And technology also makes criminal identification process more efficient. “It’s just a matter of minute,” Slavish said. “That used to be impossible.”
With more than three million records in the database, the Automated Fingerprint Identification System that the State Police is using provides statewide assistance to local agencies.
Kent Gardner, director of the Oakland County Forensic Science Laboratory, said his unit can share data with the State Police and access the FBI’s fingerprint database through the department.
The State Police also “provides a wide range of expertise in forensic disciplines that our lab is not able to offer. And the FBI can provide data on rifling characteristics of firearms to assist local laboratories in determining which types of firearms could have fired evidence,” Gardner said.
Beyond fingerprints, palm prints, digital photos and DNA, Slavish said emerging technology is being used on a national level — for example, voice recognition, gait recognition, iris recognition and even smell recognition.
Driven by advanced technology and growing demand for the Integrated Automated Fingerprint System — that contains information such as fingerprints, criminal histories, mug shots, scars and tattoo photos — the FBI has initiated the Next Generation Identification program, which could expand the current biometric identifiers.
“It will increase the capacity of our fingerprint storages, plus house multimodal biometrics records like palm prints and iris scans and still have room to accommodate future biometric technologies such as voice and gait as they become available and prove reliable,” according to the FBI.
How the FBI program would work: Palm prints are taken from the scene of a roadside bomb in Iraq. Later, an individual entering a New York airport is arrested on an unrelated charge. A full set of prints are taken during the booking process and submitted to the system. A positive ID connects the suspect to the roadside bomb.
The FBI said it hopes such a scenario could happen in the near future.

Comments are closed.