Biometric technology and law enforcement have a very long history, with police investigators having pioneered the use of fingerprint identification. Today, the biometric technologies used in law enforcement are far more advanced and varied.
In the field, handheld biometric devices now allow law enforcement officers to scan fingerprints and match them against remote databases on the fly. But federal law enforcement agencies are looking far beyond fingerprints, with organizations like the FBI building biometric databases of face and iris data as well.
Amid ongoing debate, police are also increasingly using facial recognition for surveillance purposes, and in criminal investigations. This has prompted serious concerns about privacy, civil rights, and racial bias, even as the technology has undeniably played a positive role in investigations into criminal activities involving human trafficking and child exploitation.
As lawmakers, advocacy groups, police, and other stakeholders look for common ground on those issues, further advancements are poised to bring even more biometric innovations to the work of law enforcement in the future.