Police seek new fingerprinting machine

The Wilton Police Department has squeezed 12 years of use out of a fingerprint machine that was supposed to last only eight years and have finally put it up for replacement in the 2018-19 capital budget.

There is a request for $20,287 in the capital portion of the budget to cover the cost of “this important component, which is well past its life expectancy,” said Chief John Lynch.

Lynch spoke about the need for the new fingerprint machine at a Board of Selectmen budget meeting Feb. 3.

He explained that the equipment goes far beyond the criminal realm.

“Somebody needs to be fingerprinted for the Board of Education, or for background checks, or for financial checks, a lot of organizations need it,” Lynch said.

The department will also look for grant money to help pay the cost of the equipment.

“It also does instantaneous record checks. We have people, and we’re not sure who they are,” the chief said, explaining how the machine — which is connected to the FBI fingerprint database — can determine true identity based on fingerprints.

“A lot of them have different aliases, so it gives their record and their aliases,” Lynch said. “It will alert us if the subject has been fingerprinted previously for any prior arrests.” It will also alert police to any active warrants for a person being fingerprinted.

The machine now in use was purchased in 2006, said Capt. Robert Cipolla. Because of its age, the vendor will no longer support it regarding maintenance or any issues that require troubleshooting, he said. “Per the vendor, the machines are only expected to last for eight years and we are going on year 12,” Cipolla said.

“Fingerprints that we used to have to do two times over with the old ink pad system only have to be done once with the electronic system. It is also a lot cleaner, as you can imagine,” he said.


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