Mobile Identification helps law enforcement on the go
What does an officer do when a suspect will not cooperate and provide his or her name? One solution is to use a new tool called Mobile Identification.
Mobile ID is a handheld fingerprint device paired with software that gives the officer the ability to search two fingerprints against the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) and receive results in minutes. Devices do not save data; fingerprints are searched against prints on file and are not stored in the database.
“The Sheriff’s Office is very excited to be using Mobile ID,” King County Sheriff John Urquhart said. “This invaluable tool helps the deputy confirm an identity when someone plays ‘the name game’ by giving wrong names. Deputies can do their jobs more efficiently using these wireless devices, and as a result, can more quickly get back on patrol and respond to other calls.”
Mobile ID allows an officer to quickly confirm a person’s identity and make critical decisions, such as whether to detain or release the subject, thus promoting public safety by increasing the amount of time an officer is on the street.
In 2014, King County Regional AFIS purchased 250 Mobile ID devices and has deployed over half to King County law enforcement agencies; nearly 500 officers are now trained to use the equipment. Officers report these devices as one of their most valuable tools. For further reading on success stories and comments from officers please review the 2014 AFIS annual report, available online at www.kingcounty.gov/afis, or for questions about Mobile ID please contact Patty Klopp.
If a person is not willing to give their name, aren’t they going to resist giving their fingerprint as well? Are there concerns that the use of this device will increase use-of-force problems?
SG: I checked with the Sheriff’s Office which provided this additional information:
The KCRA Mobile Identification policy states: “Any use of the device not consistent with this policy and/or law enforcement purposes may result in reassignment or forfeiture of the device, and/or a deactivation of access to the AFIS database. Additionally, any violation of the Mobile ID policy/procedure, or of federal or state law, may subject the officer to internal discipline by his/her agency.”
Mobile ID is meant as a tool for the officer to perform his/her job more efficiently. In any case where the officer is allowed by policy to take the prints, they always have the option to take the subject to a livescan facility and take a full set.
The policy further states: “Absent probable cause or reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, a person may consent to an officer’s request to use Mobile ID. However, the consent must be voluntary as defined by current Washington case law; i.e., the person must be informed that he/she has a right to refuse the officer’s request.”
If there is probable cause to arrest a suspect and the suspect refuses to have the prints taken, the individual will have their prints taken at booking