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JIS News

The crime fighting capability of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is to receive a major boost come October, when the Automated Palm and Fingerprint Identification System (APFIS) becomes operational.
The machine, which was purchased from Sagem SA of France at a cost of US$3.61 million, will be able to take palm and fingerprints and store them in a central database. These will be retrievable within five minutes.
National Security Minister, Dr. Peter Phillips, who toured the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) headquarters on Duke Street, where the equipment is located, said that, “this really revolutionizes the investigative potential of the Force. This is just one element in the attempt to bring new technologies to bear on crime fighting”.
He added that “this will enhance the JCF’s ability to investigate crimes and bring about convictions for serious crimes. This electronic criminal finger print database is expected to make a significant contribution to the fight against crime.”
Explaining how the system works, Edgar Montes Lopez, Project Manager at Sagem SA informed that, the system is used to search for fingerprint matches.
“All prints are stored in an electronic database, they are matched in a matter of minutes and they can be transmitted to any point of the island,” he noted.
He pointed out that when a person is fingerprinted, his or her information is stored in a central database. If this person is brought in again, the machine is able to identify the person and bring up the record.
“The machine provides three answers or results – hit, possible hit or not a hit. The machine is 98 per cent accurate,” he said.
Another a portable device (Morpho Rap ID), will also become fully operational in October. Mr. Lopez explained that this device is specifically designed for patrol officers. “For instance, a police on patrol can use the device to identify wanted persons. The device asks the police officer to identify the gender of the person, the person places his or her right index finger on the screen, then the left index finger, and the machine captures this. In around 30 seconds, it gives an answer as to whether the person has a criminal record or not. The machine then shows the person’s name, his alias, his serial number, and photograph if the person’s portrait is in the police database. It then displays the person’s picture,” he explained.
Mr. Lopez pointed out that the information stored in the system is backed up daily, is stored at several locations, so in case of any disaster, there is a back up system to recover all the information.
Commissioner of Police, Lucius Thomas noted that with this new technology, “the pressure we now come under from human rights groups about holding persons in custody, will definitely be out through the window”. Dr. Phillips noted that the system would also be deployed to three secondary remote sites, including Area 1 (Montego Bay); Area 2 (St. Mary/Ocho Rios); and Area 3 (May Pen).
The Minister said that the APFIS system is expected to become fully functional throughout the island by January 2007, and that several fingerprint experts have been prepared and trained in all the capacities of the system.
Dr. Phillips added that a number of vetted civilians would also be trained to use the system.