Division of Criminal Justice Services

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Contact: Janine Kava, Press Office
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
(518) 457-8906 or (518) 275-5508 – cell

For immediate release:
Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2009

Eleven sheriff, police agencies to say goodbye to “ink and roll” fingerprints
State grants to fund digital technology that will allow law enforcement to process prints more accurately and efficiently

Sheriff’s departments in five rural counties will soon have the technology to electronically process fingerprints of individuals arrested in their jurisdictions, enabling law enforcement authorities to quickly and accurately make positive identifications that are crucial to determining how cases against those arrestees will proceed.
The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) recently provided grants totaling $105,000 that will allow sheriffs’ departments in Franklin, Hamilton, Herkimer, Schoharie and Washington counties to make the switch from “ink and roll” fingerprints to digital.

With the awarding of these five grants earlier this month, every county in New York State will have at least one law enforcement agency with the ability to electronically capture and transmit arrest fingerprint data.
This infrastructure will allow law enforcement agencies across the state to comply with a mandate requiring that all fingerprint submissions to the state’s fingerprint database at DCJS be made electronically as of January 2010. Smaller police departments with very low annual arrest numbers, for example, will be able to access the technology via their local sheriff’s department or another large police agency in their counties rather than investing in their own systems.

“Accurate and timely processing of fingerprints is crucial to public safety,” said Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Denise E. O’Donnell. “Local authorities need to make timely decisions on whether to detain or release someone who has been arrested. Having that individual’s correct identity – as well as any information about prior contact with law enforcement, such as convictions, immigration status or warrants – is critical information on which to base those decisions.”

Once DCJS gets a criminal fingerprint submission, it compares those prints to the more than 40 million fingerprint images on file and provides the arresting agency with a positive identification, past criminal history and any warrant information in less than an hour.

Agencies with digital fingerprint technology transmit fingerprints immediately upon arrest; those using “ink and roll” technology send the prints via surface mail, which could result in fingerprints being analyzed days after an arrest.

Last year, DCJS processed 730,111 criminal fingerprint transactions, with the New York City Police Department accounting for more than half (54 percent) of those submissions. Of all the criminal fingerprint transactions submitted to DCJS, 86 percent were submitted electronically.

DCJS also provided $173,159 in grants to six police departments that process more than 225 arrests annually – city of Fulton in Oswego County; city of Hudson in Columbia County; city of Oneida in Madison County; city of Rensselaer and town of North Greenbush in Rensselaer County; and town of Fishkill in Dutchess County – so those agencies can convert to electronic fingerprint processing as well.

The 11 grants were funded through DCJS’ IMPACT Tools program, which is designed to provide anti-crime funding to law enforcement agencies across the state that do not participate in Operation IMPACT, the state’s premier crime-fighting program that targets 17 counties upstate and on Long Island. Approximately $1 million is available annually through IMPACT Tools and the funds are awarded in two cycles.

All told, there are 568 police departments and sheriff’s offices across New York State; 224 of them – including large departments in Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Rochester, Schenectady, Syracuse and New York City – process and submit fingerprints electronically. Another 28 agencies (including the 11 recipients of these Tools grants) are working toward that goal.

Approximately 92 percent of the remaining 316 agencies in the state process fewer than 225 arrests annually, while 8 percent (24 agencies) process more than 225 arrests a year. DCJS is working to determine the most cost-effective way to allow those agencies to meet the electronic fingerprint submission deadline.
The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services is a multi-function criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including collection and analysis of statewide crime data; operation of the DNA databank and criminal fingerprint files; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the state’s Sex Offender Registry and a toll-free telephone number (1-800-262-3257) that allows anyone to research the status of an offender.

Sheriff’s Offices with Digital Fingerprint Technology:

Albany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Chemung, Chenango, Columbia, Dutchess, Essex, Erie, Genesee, Jefferson, Livingston, Madison, Monroe, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Orange, Oswego, Otsego, Rensselaer, Rockland, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Seneca, Suffolk, Tioga, Tompkins, Warren, Wayne, Westchester and Yates. In Nassau County, the county police department rather than the Sheriff’s Office, has the technology.

Sheriff’s Offices in the process of converting to Digital Fingerprint Technology:

Allegany, Clinton, Cortland, Delaware, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Montgomery, Orleans, Putnam, Schenectady, Schoharie, Schuyler, Steuben, Sullivan, Ulster, Washington, and Wyoming.