Home / Mobile / Mobile Fingerprint Scanners to Be Distributed to OC Law Enforcement Under New Program – Voice of OC

Mobile Fingerprint Scanners to Be Distributed to OC Law Enforcement Under New Program – Voice of OC

Orange County police and sheriff’s deputies will have the ability to run fingerprints in the field among people they’re arresting or detaining, under a new $1 million-per-year program approved unanimously last month by county supervisors without discussing it publicly.

The contract with Virginia-based InCadence Strategic Solutions will provide 450 to 500 mobile fingerprint devices for the Sheriff’s Department to distribute to deputies and city police departments across the county. Officials have not said when deputies and officers will receive the scanners.

The deal drew pushback at the Aug. 25 Board of Supervisors meeting from activists who expressed concern it would be used to gather fingerprints among peaceful protesters, while sheriff officials say it will only be used when laws are violated.

“It’s going to further the police and surveillance state. How come the people who are getting detained can’t be fingerprinted when they’re booked [in jail]?” said a commenter who identified himself as Patrick C. “Why do we need a mobile service…why do we need to go and fingerprint them on the spot?”

“Will peaceful protesters be fingerprinted?” asked another speaker who identified herself as Cally A. “What is the cost to what is supposed to be a free society?”

Privacy advocates have raised concerns that a lack of oversight of law enforcement mobile fingerprinting could lead to large-scale databases of citizens’ unique biological identifiers even when their identity is not in question.

Sheriff’s officials say the mobile fingerprints will not be stored, and will only be run from people being detained or arrested who already are legally required to identify themselves to law enforcement.

“The fingerprints will be used only for identity verification,” said Carrie Braun, spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

“If people are otherwise at a protest, peacefully protesting, exercising their First Amendment rights, there’s no ability for law enforcement to just walk around and attempt to identify individuals,” Braun said.

The system will search among fingerprints from previous arrests, as well as California Department of Justice and FBI records, but not the California Department of Motor Vehicles  fingerprint database, Braun said.

A sheriff’s sergeant said the mobile fingerprinting will make it more efficient to book people when there’s larger scale arrests, and can help prevent the need for people to have to go to jail if they’re being issued a citation.

“It’s just like when we have mobile booking teams. When we send staff of deputies with a bus, and we call that a mobile booking team, that just makes the process more efficient,” said Sgt. Dennis Breckner, a 23-year veteran of the department who now works in its public affairs division.

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