The days of the ten print fingerprint card are almost over. No longer will police officers have to smear ink on a suspect’s fingertips to transfer his prints to a paper card. Many departments have switched to computerized booking stations that have the capability of capturing prints of all types – rolled, flat, and palm – into its database. The machines are also designed to snap those oh-so-attractive booking photos made popular by recent celebrity arrestees.
The top picture above (No, not Paris and her gang, although I’m sure her prints were taken on a machine similar to this one) is of a booking station called LiveScan, sold by Cogent Systems (There are several other manufacturers out there who make similar systems. This is just the equipment with which I’m most familiar). LiveScan units come factory-ready to connect to the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), the FBI’s database – the largest collection of fingerprints in the world – over forty-seven million.
A LiveScan booking station stands nearly six-feet tall and weighs over two-hundred fifty pounds. It’s very durable, built to withstand the abuse of combative criminals and staggering drunks. The units are even equipped with their own portable cooling systems.
Image quality is very important when attempting match a suspect’s fingerprints to that of a print retrieved from the scene of a crime. Cogent’s resolution and quality picks up the finest detail of print ridges. In fact, the resolution meets all FBI standards.
Many departments across the U.S. simply don’t have the funds to purchase equipment like the LiveScan. Those agencies still rely on the messy ten print card system where officers roll a supect’s fingers across an ink pad and then transfer his prints to a pre-printed card. A large, one-gallon jug of orange-scented hand cleaner sits at ready to clean the stained hands of suspects and officers alike. The completed card is then mailed to the FBI in Clarksburg, West Virginia where technicians enter the information into the AFIS system.
Ten Print Card
Cogent has developed a mobile remote fingerprint scanner that easily configures with their existing LiveScan equipment using Bluetooth technology. Officers in the field can submit a suspect’s fingerprint directly to the AFIS system and receive the results of the search in minutes. This handy little pocket-size device is approximately four-and-a-half inches tall, one-and-a-half inches wide, and less than an inch thick, and weighs less three ounces.
(Photo from Cogent Systems)
By the way, most police officers refer to the booking procedure as “processing.” “Go process your prisoner.” Not, “Book ’em”