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Police device provides instant IDs

June 3, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
There are far more criminals on our streets than law officers. As a result, it's important that law enforcement be able to identify a criminal when they have the chance. There's a new device that's helping them do that.L.A. County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Kovac jumps out of his patrol car in Lynwood, investigating a man on a bike who, once spotted by Kovac, tries to get away. The deputy's most important responsibility right now is determining who this person is.

A once-difficult task, that is much easier now thanks to a new device, no bigger than a cell phone, called a "Blue Check."

Kovac, just minutes before the chase, showed how it works.

"This is the actual device that takes the fingerprints," said Deputy Kovac. "I'm going to get your right index finger, left index finger. And now this is automatically sending your fingerprints to the BlackBerry."

A few minutes later: "Here's your fingerprints, by the way, that are being sent," said Kovac. "If you're a wanted person, it's going to immediately give me your name and photograph of you."

Within a minute, it reports back.

"So here's you. So you had no hit, as in you had not previously been arrested. I know you were sweating it a little bit," said Kovac.

The Blue Check device basically puts a massive database at law enforcement's fingertips, with results available in seconds.

"So this is important, because often times criminals will not carry identification so that law enforcement can't identify them," said Kovac.

And that brings us back to our bike rider.

"He's saying he doesn't have any identification, so we'll use the Blue Check to see if we can identify him," said Kovac.

A quick fingerprint from the subject, and within seconds Kovac has a positive identification.

"It gives the correct birthday," said Kovac. "Check the photograph, and in fact, that is him right there."

The deputy finds out the subject does have a criminal record but is not wanted.

That allows Kovac to let the man go. In this case the Blue Check worked in the subject's favor, but if he were a wanted criminal, his luck would have run out.

That very scenario happened recently in MacArthur Park.

"Two officers stopped and detained a person for loitering," said Kovac. "That person gave them a fake name. They grabbed this device, had him place his fingerprints on there and within one minute it came back that he was a murder suspect who'd given a fake name, and they arrested him for murder. Wow."

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