Police in Cumberland County have a new piece of technology aimed at promoting public safety that many people have only seen in the movies and on television.
On Wednesday, Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed, along with members of local law enforcement, announced the roll out of mobile finger printer ID units in four municipalities.
“I don’t think it takes too long out on the streets to determine when somebody is not sharing the whole truth or being evasive with their identity,” Freed said. “It’s very important for that police-citizen interaction for the police to know who they are dealing with.”
A total of eight units have been provided to Upper Allen Township, Camp Hill, Mechanicsburg and Hampden Township police departments by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency and the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association at no cost to the departments.
The devices, essentially modified Samsung smart phones equipped with new software and hardware, are able to scan fingerprints and compare them to FBI and Pennsylvania State Police databases to better identify people in the field.
“Unfortunately, with today’s technology anyone can go on the internet and buy false ID and get your picture on it with all kinds of information,” Upper Allen Township Police Chief James Adams said. “Sadly, it’s very popular in a lot of your college communities, but it’s also very popular with the criminal element.”
The device takes about three minutes to scan both databases, which Freed said includes people who have been arrested and processed by law enforcement.
“If you’ve been arrested and processed in Pennsylvania and that has not been expunged, your prints will be in there and it will come back with a hit,” Freed said.
The databases do not include people who have been fingerprinted for things like work clearance, according to Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Adam Reed said.
“It’s another piece of equipment that I think will make the officers safer,” Adams said. “As (Freed) alluded to, this type of technology has been seen on TV and in movies for years. People expect that of us. This is just one of many success stories when it comes to technology.”
The devices do not retain search records and do not add fingerprints to the database, Freed said.
Philadelphia, Lehigh and Montgomery counties have also implemented the mobile finger print ID devices.