North Augusta Public Safety has acquired another piece of technology in the fight on crime.

The Morphoident fingerprint reader was issued to Public Safety by SLED early last week. According to promotional material that accompanied Public Safety's press release, the scanner is “the latest in hand-held identification devices for law enforcement.”

The release also stated that SLED's primary request to Public Safety was to provide SLED with “periodic reports on how it was used and how its use assisted in arrests of otherwise unidentified individuals.”

“What it specifically does is help law enforcement immediately identify someone, whether dead or alive,” said Lt. Tim Thornton, a spokesman for North Augusta Public Safety in the release. “If the unknown subject has their fingerprints in the NCIC database, officers can learn his or her true identity in less than two minutes. Having this information readily available to law enforcement will quickly alert the officer on his or her vehicle MDT to any enhanced safety precautions needed and or any outstanding warrants pending on the individual.”

Key features of the scanner include its size – it fits in the palm a hand – a forensic-quality optical fingerprint sensor (500 dpi, 256 gray levels); FBI-certified optical PIV sensor that meets SAP 20 specifications; the ability for use in most field conditions including rain, noise, cold and more; multi-case management; vibration alerts when a fingerprint is scanned correctly; multiple platform capability and more.

“Right now the fingerprint reader is utilized by Public Safety's traffic division,” Thornton said. “It's all too common for our officers to come across someone who does not have their ID on them and provides their name and date of birth verbally to Public Safety. Often, perpetrators will give an officer false information because they know they're wanted. They know, if true information is given, they're busted. This device will assist to positively identify the person to ensure accuracy. Officers are required to have reasonable suspicion that false information has been provided by a subject or are investigating suspicious activity of someone that cannot produce a valid means of identification before having the unidentified individual submit a fingerprint.”

The release also said that the device works with Bluetooth technology.

“Officers utilize their patrol vehicle's MDT to receive the NCIC replies,” Thornton said. “Each unit retails for around $2,000, but Public Safety received theirs from SLED free of charge. There is no fee, either, paid for the operation of the device.”

Scott Rodgers is the news editor at the North Augusta Star and has been with the paper since January 2013 after previously working at the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter @NAStarRodgers.