DCSO open house is tonight
In addition to demonstrations of drug-sniffing dogs, the mounted posse and tours of the jail, visitors to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office open house tonight can see a demonstration of the department’s new fingerprint computer.
The month-old $44,000 fingerprint live scan system is a new quick-and-easy way of taking a criminal’s fingerprints and searching other databases for that person’s criminal history.
Records technician Karis Drake said the computer has made her job a lot easier – since she got used to it.
“It was hard at the beginning. It’s like teaching an old dog new tricks,” Drake said. “You roll each finger over the glass prism and it appears on the screen. I can see if I got a good print and I can see what I’ve done.”
Drake said in the past, using ink and paper was messy and if she made a mistake during printing, she had to throw the whole card out and start again.
She said instead of ink, now people who get fingerprinted put lotion on their hands.
“So it’s more of a treat than a punishment,” Drake said.
She said the computer also saves time because instead of fingerprinting a person multiple times for multiple cards, she just tells the printer to print out many cards. She can also save the print job in the computer and print out cards later.
And, instead of finding out too late that the print job doesn’t have the essential elements needed to match fingerprints, the computer will tell her what’s wrong with it or she can enlarge it on the screen and take a close look at the whorls, deltas and swirls that make up every individual fingerprint.
Part of Drake’s job is to fingerprint felons and sex offenders who live in the community. She also takes fingerprints for employees of the county, the school district, massage technicians and casinos.
Before, she would send the fingerprint cards out in the mail so other agencies can check for criminal backgrounds. But using a phone line that soon will be installed in the computer, the prints can be sent by modem and will be returned within 24 hours. Criminal records can be searched and results sent back to the sheriff’s office within two hours.
The fingerprints are sent to the state repository in Carson City, which also has a fingerprint computer. There, prints are checked against those in the FBI files and the Western Identification Network files, which holds fingerprints of criminals from law enforcement agencies in five western states.
Washoe County Sheriff’s Office also has a fingerprint computer and the Minden and Stateline jails will soon be installing theirs.
The department received the computer after Lt. Ross Chichester wrote a state criminal justice Byrne Grant and received $33,000. The rest of the money was matched by DCSO.