California’s electronic fingerprint database system is proving popular among the state’s municipalities, if the case of Santa Monica is any indication. A staff report has recommended that the city continue paying the annual $55,800 cost to continue using the Live Scan service.
Run by the California Department of Justice (DOJ), Live Scan is a biometric identification system connected to a national fingerprint database, allowing the subscribing cities to electronically scan the fingerprints of individuals and match them to potential criminal histories within a matter of hours. It has proven popular, processing about two million background checks each year in the state. Santa Monica’s staff report recommended continuing with the service for the next five years at a cost of no more than $60,000 annually, noting that the subscription cost is offset somewhat by fees the Santa Monica Police Department is able to charge for conducting private background checks using Live Scan.
Santa Monica’s enthusiasm for the technology reflects a growing trend in the US and beyond as local law enforcement agencies continue to discover the advantages of biometric identification. Early this month, for example, Baltimore city officials moved to acquire mobile biometric identification devices for their police service. Meanwhile, the broader security apparatus of the Department of Homeland Security recently laid out its plans to extend its use of biometric identification in its own efforts to secure the country against criminals and terrorists. These developments are occurring even as the use of this technology increasingly becomes a matter of debate with respect to civil rights concerns; debate aside, the technologies in play are clearly of some value to government authorities, from the local to the national level.
Source: Santa Monica Lookout
September 9, 2015 – by Alex Perala