New police technology takes the ink out of fingerprinting

UW-Whitewater police are preparing to put a new digital fingerprint scanner into use within the upcoming weeks.

Kiederlen

Campus Police Chief Matt Kiederlen said the new technology is an important upgrade that will eliminate some of the problems of the ink and paper method.

“The big problem with ink is you really don’t know if your fingerprint is going to be of submission quality until after you’ve submitted it,” Kiederlen said. “The computer will only allow a good quality print to go through the system.”

According to Kiederlen, where an officer could spend upwards of 45 minutes trying to get a good set of prints with old methods, the digital system will allow officers to get a good set of prints in about 10-15 minutes.

He said though the system will primarily be used for transmitting criminal offenses and doing background checks, the computerized system will also save time in identifying people.

“If you have an individual who isn’t presenting ID or has fraudulent ID and you don’t have a way of positively identifying, you can run those prints,” Kiederlen said. “Usually within 24 hours you can get a positive ID assuming the person’s identity is in the system.”

A state grant covered most of the $15,000 cost, though the university had to pay 25 percent, according to Kiederlen.

“I think we were only one of around 20 some odd departments that were selected and we were given the award,” Kiederlen said.

He said the new scanner reads the ridges of fingers, producing a computer graphic of the fingerprint.

“The lighting is to produce the shadowing it needs,” Kiederlen said. “It’s almost as if it’s taking a photograph of sorts.”

He said one of the most expensive aspects of the system is probably the printer, due to the printing quality that is required for fingerprints.

“This is really frontline technology; it’s the direction everything is going,” Kiederlen said. “It comes out like you were rolling it on ink, it’s really pretty incredible.”

The system is portable, which Kiederlen said could be handy in situations where the department wants to set up a second arrest site, like homecoming, or even if police wanted to do a fingerprint day for a large group.

Police are offering the service for $5 to cover the cost of the card.

Junior Dustin Tilsner, majoring in special education, said though he thinks the new scanner will help to solve issues quicker and easier, he doesn’t see it getting the amount of use expected.

“I’d see it being more useful if we had a lot more security issues or identity issues on campus,” Tilsner said.

Tilsner said he’s not sure whether he would use the service or not.

“I might do it if I felt like I really needed it, otherwise, probably not,” Tilsner said. “If it was required I would do it, but I don’t find myself being first in line to get it.”

Those interested in getting fingerprinted are asked to call ahead.

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