Identification of individuals by law enforcement through electronic scans of their irises has been found only in Hollywood-based police shows—until now. St. Tammany Parish, La. Sheriff Jack Strain recently unveiled new devices and software being used to identify and confirm sex offenders throughout the parish using this very technology. The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office was one of the first law enforcement agencies in the nation to use this technology and was the first agency to integrate its use into a sex offender registry.
In cooperation with BI2 Technologies of Plymouth, Mass., the STPSO has installed the iris-scanning device SORIS™ (Sex Offender Registry and Identification System) in its sex-offender registry office and in the St. Tammany Parish Jail. The devices provide positive identification of individuals through electronic analysis of the person’s iris. During an initial baseline scan, high-resolution cameras capture short videos of the eyeball, then process that video to extract certain identifiable characteristics, which are then stored in a national database. After the baseline scan has been captured, that person’s identity can be verified in near real time during subsequent scans.
Irises, like fingerprints, are unique to an individual. This new technology provides a fast (virtually instantaneous) and extremely reliable method of establishing positive identification. Currently, every person booked into the St. Tammany Parish Jail undergoes an iris scan. If the individual is not already in the database, this serves as their baseline scan. If they were previously scanned, this acts as another facet of their identification protocol during the booking process. Iris scanning has also been made an integral part of the release process, ensuring that the inmate being released from jail is the correct person.
The iris scanning software has been fully integrated with Offender Watch, the St. Tammany sex offender database software. When sex offenders come to the Sheriff’s Office for periodic registration (mandated by state law), they undergo an iris scan to confirm their identity.
The STPSO goes beyond state registration requirements by making quarterly checks of individuals at their homes in order to confirm their claimed residence. This is done using a hand-held device called MORIS™ (Mobile Offender Recognition and Identification System). MORIS is a software app that consists of a 2.5-ounce hardware attachment for a Smartphone. This device turns the phone into a powerful mobile biometric unit to be used in the field.
Our deputies are now fitted with the technology to positively identify a subject using iris recognition, facial recognition, and fingerprint scanning on site. The MORIS will wirelessly and securely comb through the database searching for a match. The mobile units allow deputies performing these checks to immediately confirm the identity of a sex offender, making it impossible for a relative or acquaintance to pretend to be the offender in their absence.
“Making positive identification on people going through the legal system is a must. With this latest technology, we are able to confirm these individuals’ identities with 100 percent certainty, resulting in a safer environment for our deputies and our citizens,” Sheriff Strain said.