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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Wednesday, February 21, 2024

New technology aids suspect identification

People may want to think twice before lying to the police, as determining the true identity of a person can now be done within seconds.  




Several police departments across the state will soon use Fast ID units--new handheld identification terminals that scan fingerprints--and compare them against Wisconsin Department of Justice arrest records. 




State Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager outlined possible uses for the Fast ID systems at a press conference Friday morning, when she and several police officers gave a demonstration of the unit. Lautenschlager said the units would help determine if an arrested person is lying, as well as help in situations of identity theft. 




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\[The Fast ID] allows us to make clear who the person really is,"" she said. 




The Wisconsin DOJ has funds for 35 systems, each of which costs approximately $2,100. Seven of the units are already being used in the field, including one at the Dane County Sheriff's Department. Sheriff Gary Hamblin said the units would help maintain public safety. 




The Rock County Sheriff's Department also has a Fast ID system. According to Sheriff Eric Runaas, the department has already used it successfully three times in the last two weeks. 




""The machine's already paid for itself,"" Runaas said. 




In addition to only taking a few seconds for an accurate identification, the Fast ID units can be used 24 hours a day. However, despite its quick return on information, the unit will not help in all cases. After scanning the fingerprints of an arrested individual, the unit returns a state identification number, but a number only exists for those people who have been arrested and fingerprinted in Wisconsin, according to Lautenschlager. 




While Lautenschlager and the police officers at the press conference said the unit would only be used on people they think are lying or on people with whom they are not familiar, the unit could have more possible uses, including aiding background checks. 




""Hopefully this kind of technology will help us in the future, and we'll be able to provide better services to the people in the state as a result,"" Lautenschlager said.

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