NSW cops are set to receive yet another gadget to strap to their belts, adding fingerprint scanners to a fleet of Samsung smartphones and body-worn video cameras being progressively rolled out across the force.
The state’s police force has approached technology vendors for portable fingerprint scanner options, as it looks to digitise the day-to-day work of police on the beat so they no longer have to waste time returning to the station to register and verify IDs.
The NSW Police has not explicitly stated how many of the portable fingerprint scanners it plans to buy. But it is looking for machines that will work in unison with an expanding fleet of Samsung Note 4 smartphones, by tethering to the mobile devices’ internet connection and transferring captured information to an app on the phone..
It is looking for FBI-certified scanners that comply with the demands of law enforcement information-sharing agency CrimTrac for sharing and matching fingerprints against the national automated fingerprint identification system (NAFIS).
According to tender documents, NSWPOL is hoping a rollout of the machines will boost the number of fingerprints on file and reap operational savings by not having to return individuals to the station to take their biometric details.
From a public safety perspective, the new capability will also allow police to verify the identity of suspects on the spot, and access information like weapons warnings or outstanding warrants.
In its 2015 budget, the NSW government delivered on a pre-election promise to fund a $100 million ‘policing for tomorrow' pool that will pay for electronic policing innovations pitched to the force.
It has already committed $4 million to the rollout of 250 body-worn video cameras to boost evidence gathering at crime scenes and create a disincentive to police violence.
South Australia’s police force has already kicked off its own fingerprint scanner rollout, spending $3 million on 150 bluetooth-enabled devices and supporting software, to be supplied by NEC.
However, at this stage SA police officers can only collect fingerprints from suspects who volunteer their biometrics, while they wait for new legislation that will give them the power to compel suspects to comply with the identification process in the field.