Wireless scanners aid police in their work
Clermont County is involved in a pilot program to test the device.
BATAVIA, Ohio (AP) -- With the swipe of a driver's license through a handheld scanner, Clermont County authorities can quickly determine whether the holder has outstanding warrants, is on the terrorist watch list or is using a fake ID.
Police in the southwest Ohio county are the first to use the wireless scanners, originally developed for use by the Defense Department, for everyday law enforcement.
"We have used them in several of the DUI checkpoints," said Deputy Rob Cordes, who is point man for the sheriff's office in a pilot program to test the device, developed by Mobilisa, a Port Townsend, Wash.-based company. Developed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Mobilisa identification scanners are already in use at some military installations.
Clermont County is trying them in a pilot program that the company expects to lead to more local law enforcement and border security uses.
"We hope it's the first of many," Mobilisa spokesman Steve Williams said Tuesday of Clermont's program.
Clermont County Sheriff A.J. "Tim" Rodenberg is a friend of John W. Paxton Sr., chairman of the board for Mobilisa. Paxton said the device has potential applications for a variety of security uses, such as by school guards to check IDs of delivery people.
How it's used
Clermont deputies began using the scanners in the field in September, and courthouse deputies began using them for random checks of visitors this month.
Besides catching people with outstanding arrest warrants, "we're verifying that IDs are not fictitious," Cordes said.
The scanners are faster than typing information into a laptop computer in a patrol car to check out a suspect via the National Crime Information Center, and they cross-check data from more than 140 sources, including the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Sgt. Dick Corder said several hundred courthouse visitors have been checked, and dozens were found to have outstanding arrest warrants for failure to appear before judges on charges. In most cases, the visitors were accompanying a friend to the courthouse.
Besides driver's licenses, the device can scan bar codes or magnetic strips on state-issued ID cards, military and other government IDs, and passports. The device includes a digital camera, so deputies can photograph suspects, license plates, weapons or other items that might be used as evidence in court cases.
As part of the pilot program, which could last a year, Mobilisa donated three scanners -- valued at about 25,000 total with their docking stations -- to the Clermont County sheriff's office. In return, deputies will make suggestions on how Mobilisa can improve the scanner and might demonstrate its use to other law-enforcement agencies.