Identification of individuals by law enforcement through electronic scans of their irises has been found only in Hollywood-based police shows.
The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office today unveiled new devices and software they say is being used to identify and confirm sex offenders throughout the parish using this very technology.
The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office is currently the only law enforcement agency in the state to use this technology, according to spokesman Captain George Bonnett.
In cooperation with BI2 Technologies of Plymouth, Massachusetts, he says the sheriff's office has installed iris scanning devices in its sex offender registry office and in the St. Tammany Parish Jail. Four MORIS mobile devices are also being put into service in the field he says.
"The devices provide positive identification of individuals through electronic analysis of the person's iris," Bonnet says. "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. Unlike fingerprint identification, this new technology provides a much faster (virtually instantaneous) method of establishing positive identification.
Currently, Bonnett says 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 our 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, our 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 St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office goes beyond state registration requirements by making quarterly checks of individuals at their homes in order to confirm their claimed residence. The three mobile devices will 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."
BI2 Technologies' mobile devices also provide FBI certified fingerprint identification and software-based facial recognition. The MORIS device is currently the only smartphone-based fingerprint system to receive certification by the FBI. Facial recognition is possible by comparing surveillance video of a criminal to booking photos in the sheriff's office existing databases.
Bonnett says this capability is expected to be implemented within the next year in St. Tammany.