Detroit police departments to test portable fingerprint scanners


Detroit Free Press

DETROIT — Police in southeast Michigan soon will be the first in the state to have portable fingerprint scanners to identify suspects, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard announced Tuesday.

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The scanners are being tested by a dozen departments, including Macomb and Washtenaw county sheriff's deputies and police in Ferndale, Livonia, Oak Park, Novi, Auburn Hills, Westland, Waterford and Clinton Township.

Despite assurances from law enforcement agencies that civil liberties will be preserved, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan said Tuesday it expects court challenges.

"We do not in Michigan allow fingerprinting on arrest for any crime where the potential term is not more than 90 days," including many driving offenses, disturbing the peace and minor in possession, ACLU legislative director Shelli Weisberg said.

Oakland County is to run the new system, bought with $3 million in federal grants. Officers will have suspects put their index fingers into the devices and get back a name, photo, description and criminal record "within 35 seconds," said Lt. Kim Rossman, an Oakland County technology specialist. The devices search a database of 1.8 million suspects arrested in Michigan since 1999, Rossman said.

The devices are expected to be available by year's end in 125 departments in the Courts and Law Enforcement Management Information System or CLEMIS. Detroit will not be part of the system.

"Historically, we couldn't get people there to engage with us," Bouchard said Tuesday, a day after he lunched with Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans, seeking cooperation. CLEMIS costs $145 per officer per year for departments to belong, and Evans was interested, Bouchard said.

Evans' spokesman, John Roach, confirmed Evans is interested in CLEMIS.

Copyright 2009 Detroit Free Press

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