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Hendon Publishing

NCR shares biometric information

Many times, these individuals are arrested in neighboring cities on misdemeanor charges, while neighboring jurisdictions have issued felony arrest warrants in their names. These criminals can potentially go undetected for years.

To address this problem in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, nine local law enforcement jurisdictions have banded together to form a network of biometric databases to enable cross-jurisdictional law enforcement. Known as the National Capital Region, agencies from Fairfax County, VA; Montgomery and Prince George’s County, MD; Washington, DC; and the United States Secret Service have each established Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems (AFIS) that enable the cross search of other agencies’ criminal databases based on biometric information.

Motorola provided an interoperable network of AFIS systems based on each of the counties’ specific operational and legislative requirements. Each agency built AFIS systems that would enable an officer to seamlessly search a database across jurisdictional boundaries. With a subsequent upgrade of this network, this seamless connectivity of data has expanded to mobile units out in the field.

For example, this interoperable network enables an officer in Fairfax County who has stopped a suspect to capture the detained individual’s fingerprints and submit those prints to the Fairfax County AFIS. Should those prints provide a match, the officer is then informed of any previous arrest record and any possible outstanding warrants. If the Fairfax system does not find a match, the network then simultaneously transfers the data to the Washington, DC, Metro and Montgomery and Prince George’s County AFIS systems. Searching those databases, a positive match would provide the officer on the side of the road with the criminal history of the individual’s unlawful activities in neighboring jurisdictions and alert the officer of any possible outstanding arrest warrant issued for this person.

Law enforcement agencies in Fairfax County, VA; Montgomery and Prince George’s County, MD; and Washington, DC all use Motorola’s advanced Biometric Identification Systems (BIS). Each system was specifically designed to meet the operational, logistical and legislative requirements of the respective counties and states. The solutions included multi-modal biometric systems for fingerprint, palmprints, and facial images. Advanced workstations were installed for latent processing and new bookings.

Beyond the cooperative of these neighboring counties, interoperability extends to the Sheriff’s Information Management System (SIMS), Virginia State Police, and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Additionally, the new system was designed to be compatible with the legacy technologies still active within the region.


By providing faster matching speeds, greater accuracy, and access to more databases, the technology used by the National Capital Region has increased positive identifications and crimes solved.

Officials have also seen a dramatic reduction in hardware procurement cost and a long-term reduction in maintenance and support expenditures. Furthermore, the joint procurement enabled the agencies to secure Homeland Security grants as they could demonstrate a positive return on investment (ROI). Even system training was easier to provide due to cooperative training for the large numbers of potential attendees from the different agencies.

Published in Public Safety IT, Jul/Aug 2008

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