Fingerprint ID device helps deputies find wanted suspects - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Fingerprint ID device helps deputies find wanted suspects

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RCSD Major Jim Stewart shows fingerprint reader RCSD Major Jim Stewart shows fingerprint reader

Word is getting around Richland County: don't lie to deputies about who you are. 

They have a way to prove a person's identity if they have ever been booked at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, or if they're wanted by SLED or the FBI. 

And its working.

Since deputies started using the Blue Check devices in June of 2013, 239 suspects have been identified.  72 of the identification verifications were from the local database, 163 were from SLED, and 4 were identified through the FBI.

"It's to the point where some people out there in the community know about the devices and we've actually just had to bring one out before, and get ready to use it, and they say, 'Okay, I'm gonna' tell you.  Here's my name,'" said Major Jim Stewart with the Sheriff's department.

"I think, technology-wise, they're one of the most useful tools we've put out on the road lately," he said. "It helps the officers out.  We've helped other jurisdictions, too.  They know we have them and they've arrested somebody or they've interviewed somebody and they're not sure the person's telling the truth about who they are.  And we come over and used this device, identified them, and then we tell that agency and they could take it from there."

The Blue Check fingerprint readers are handheld devices that scan a fingerprint, then search a database that includes anyone who has been booked in the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.  Not only can the devices help verify a person's identity, they can also tell officers if that person is wanted on warrants, either locally, statewide or nationally in the FBI crime database.

"It helps officers who encounter a person on the street who may not be truthful about their name," said Stewart.

The Sheriff's Department says this technology is the first of its kind in South Carolina. The units cost about $2,000 apiece, which includes software and service.  They were purchased with money seized through drug investigations. About 52 are deployed throughout the county.

Stewart said identifying wanted suspects through the devices could prevent them from committing future crimes.

"It could stop them," he said. "If they arrested for some burglaries and they're in the detention center, then they're not doing any burglaries while they're there."

Sheriff Leon Lott said there are countless examples of arrests using the devices; ranging from shoplifting and trespassing, drugs, criminal domestic violence, trespassing and fugitives from justice.

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