NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

FBI Activates Instant ID System

July 20, 1999

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has put into service a new computerized national crime data system. It gives police in any community the ability to take a single fingerprint from a suspect in a roadside arrest and determine within minutes whether that person is wanted for a crime.

  • The new National Crime Information Center 2000 system has taken over from a computer network that linked the bureau to state and local police agencies and often took hours, days or longer to answer such queries.
  • Some law-enforcement agencies -- such as the New Jersey and Michigan state police -- already have the equipment needed to use the new system, and the bureau hopes to have most agencies in the country hooked in within three years.
  • The bureau provides the software free, but the agencies must buy their own lap-top computers, fingerprint scanners and printers.
  • The new system can automatically process fingerprints and mug shots even from a squad car -- utilizing a file of 250,000 fingerprints at the bureau's facility at Clarksburg, W. Va.

It also contains the old system's lists of wanted people, criminal histories, missing and deported people, and stolen guns, vehicles, license plates, stocks, boats and other articles.

Source: Associated Press, "New Tool Aids in Identification of Fugitives," New York Times, July 18, 1999.


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