Sheriff#039;s office adds to its crimefighting tools

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 28, 2005

It is another weapon in the war on crime.

The Lawrence County Sheriff's Office recently received a new computerized Laserscan fingerprinting system. Officials with the Ohio Attorney General's Office visited Ironton Monday to officially congratulate Sheriff Tim Sexton and pass him a check for $35,802 to pay for the system.

The Laserscan is 21st century technology at Lawrence County fingertips. It allows a law enforcement official to computer scan an inmate's fingerprints and palm prints and then immediately transmit those images to state and federal agencies for identification. It replaces the old-fashioned method of putting an inmate's fingers in ink, then rolling the fingers across a card, mailing the card off and waiting for a response.

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Lawrence County is one of 50 agencies across the state to get the new equipment. The system is being paid for by nearly $2 million in federal grant monies obtained by the attorney general's office and disbursed to local agencies.

&#8220I'm a former sheriff's deputy and I know that most sheriff's offices are hurting for money these days,” said Jeff Rossi, department superintendent with the BCI. &#8220Most can't afford to pay $35,000 to $40,000 for a piece of equipment and then $3,000 to $4,000 a year for maintenance and support.”

The grants are based on an agency's annual number of fingerprint submissions as well as population size and number of agencies served.

Lawrence County's new system comes complete with a three-year tech support and maintenance contract.

&#8220It's needed equipment and it doesn't cost the county a cent,” Sexton said.

&#8220And it makes our work a little safer. An officer is not standing there as long with an inmate trying to get a print. And there is less error involved.”

The old-fashioned ink roll system often had a rejection or error rate of 20 percent.

The Livescan system has an error rate of less than 1 percent, according to a recent report, Rossi said.