U.S. Department of Homeland Security 2005 Law Enforcement Terrorism Protection Program funds were used to purchase 125 "LiveScan" finger printing systems for Missouri police and sheriff's departments, according to Mark James, director of public safety for the state.
Sikeston along with Dexter and the Scott and Mississippi county sheriff's departments were among the local agencies to receive new fingerprint equipment.
The Sikeston Department of Public Safety got the new equipment, a Sagem Morpho P-250/M unit, in June, according to Capt. John Martin of the DPS.
"It's a very positive change -- a definite improvement over the old ink technique," he said. "So far it's operating with no major problems and excellent results."
With the previous ink pad system, fingerprints were submitted by mail to the Missouri State Highway Patrol for comparison.
It would take days -- even weeks -- for the Patrol to enter the prints into the Automated Fingerprint Identification System and send results back, Martin said. "Now, as soon as the officer prints them, it goes straight into the AFIS system."
Fingerprint databases are then used to compare the fingerprints with those of wanted persons, including terrorists, while the person is still in custody.
"These systems will tremendously help Missouri law enforcement agencies to identify criminals and terrorists who otherwise would escape detection under the old method," James said in a recent press release.
The LiveScan finger printing system is completely inkless.
"It's totally electronic," Martin said. "It's all done by computer. You roll the fingers on the glass, then they show up on the machines."
DPS hasn't received a lot of feedback from those being printed yet. "I think they like the idea of no ink all over their hands, no cleanup," Martin said.
Officers also save time as they don't have to clean ink off themselves or equipment after printing someone.
"Now there's no cleanup -- you take the prints and that's it," Martin said.
The LiveScan system also "produces much better results," he added. "You get much better prints. Because it's inkless now, they're much cleaner now and much easier to classify and read."
The system requires a good print or the computer won't accept it. "So it makes you do them right," Martin said.
The process is also speeded up because if a mistake is made, that single print can be redone instead of the whole card.
The unit's printer prints out all the text and dividing lines along with the fingerprints onto blank fingerprint card stock.
"We're still in the process of completing the training," Martin said. "Approximately 50 percent of the department is trained at this time."
He explained rodeo details pushed the training schedule back some.
As DPS's new system is portable, it can be quickly relocated to scenes of catastrophic emergencies.
The State Emergency Management Agency and the state DPS worked with the Missouri Office of Administration to obtain a contract for the LiveScan system and maintenance.
The savings generated by using the state contract allowed Missouri to purchase LiveScan units for more jurisdictions as compared to each jurisdiction purchasing the LiveScan units individually.
There was no local match required for the equipment, according to Martin.
The Sheriffs and Missouri Police Chiefs associations helped develop a priority list of 125 recipient jurisdictions for the system.
The LiveScan purchases require the police and sheriff departments to incur all yearly maintenance costs for their systems.