Police gain capability to retrieve license photos during stops

August 27, 2011

By Staff

NEW — 8 a.m. Aug. 27, 2011

Police used to rely on text descriptions to identify criminals, but now, due to upgraded computer capabilities, officers can retrieve driver’s license photos on in-car computers.

Through a $300,000 grant from the State, Regional and Federal Enterprise Retrieval System project and the Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority, officers can quickly confirm a person’s identity by using a copy of a state Department of Licensing photo.

The program is expected to reach most law enforcement agencies in the state soon.

“This is about catching bad guys who are trying to deceive us by using fake names,” Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste said in a statement. “We are now able to quickly determine the real identity of these people.”

The grant from the State, Regional and Federal Enterprise Retrieval System gave many states, including neighboring Oregon and Idaho, the ability to share license photos through the the state patrol’s A Central Computerized Enforcement Service System, or ACCESS. The funding from the Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority gave police agencies from around Washington the same ability to use the system to quickly retrieve a copy of a license photo and make a positive identification.

ACCESS is managed and operated by the state patrol’s Criminal Records Division. The system is is designed to give law enforcement the ability to query multiple state and national databases as a tool in the administration of criminal justice.

“The WATPA board members were convinced that providing this new technology to officers in the field would aid in the preservation of public safety and in the apprehension of offenders including those who engage in auto theft,” Don Pierce, Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority chairman, said in a statement. “We are extremely pleased with the results of this grant program.”

The initial agency in the state to gain the ability to view license photos through ACCESS is the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Most law enforcement agencies in the state should gain the ability by November.

“Having DOL pictures instantaneously will help us in a lot of ways, including identifying people for criminal investigations, traffic stops, hit and run collisions, and helping identify missing or lost people,” Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield said in a statement.

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One Response to “Police gain capability to retrieve license photos during stops”

  1. bryanw on August 30th, 2011 8:15 am

    this just seems odd. issaquah police have small laptop pc’s in their cars. what are they for, email? those computers have been there for years and only now they can get a copy of a drivers license? i don’t know why but somehow in 2011 this seems incredibly unexpected – like, they should have had this capability for years and years and years. what is most interesting about this is the discovery of the organization behind this – washington auto theft prevention agency, which appears to be a quasi-governmental organization. so why couldn’t the government just give the money to the police departments rather than go through this agency? that might be a more interesting story as to why funding came through a group that appears to be private, but funded with public money, staffed with public employees and has on it’s board of directors public officials…. well, i can’t seem to understand, “… the rest of the story……”

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