N.Y. police use biometrics system to secure weapons

By Kenneth C. Crowe

TROY, N.Y. — A city police officer wanting a Taser or rifle to take on patrol will only get the weapon after providing a thumbprint for identification. The police department's new LEID Biometric Access Control System reads the print before unlocking the weapon for the officer to grab.

"It's a system that allows us to track the weapon,'' Chief Nicholas Kaiser said Wednesday.

A high-tech aficionado when it comes to deploying new tools to police in the Collar City, Kaiser saw the computer monitoring system would help the department avoid weapons inventory problems.

"I was concerned that someday a rifle would be missing,'' Kaiser said.

Now, when one of the department's 124 officers checks out a weapon, there's a computer record of who has taken the weapon and when it's returned.

Capt. John Cooney, who worked to set up the system, said each officer is only allowed to take out weapons for which they've been qualified to use in the line of duty.

The system is used to track 20 Tasers, seven shotguns and 12 patrol rifles.

The city spent $76,000 to purchase and install the system. There is a computerized weapons locker in the department's three police stations.

The money for the new system came from drug forfeiture funds, Kaiser said.

At police headquarters, Cooney demonstrated how an officer would use the computer terminal to open the locker for a weapon to be taken out on patrol. After the computer recognizes the officer, from the print, the officer touches a computer screen icon to select the weapon. The computer then unlocks the mechanism holding the weapon and the officer removes it.

In the event of an emergency, Cooney demonstrated how one officer could open every locker simultaneously in order to quickly deploy the firepower needed during a critical situation.

Copyright 2009 Times-Union

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