MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) -Technology is ever evolving, creating new resources for police forces. Now, local agencies are looking to SLED for training on a type of technology that can instantly identify a suspect.
It is about the size of a cell phone and the small machine can instantly access a database with information on thousands of people. The State Law Enforcement Division first introduced the technology in 2013. Now, Myrtle Beach police officers go through training to use it for every day patrols.
The machine is called a Rapid ID Device.
Thom Berry with SLED explained the handheld device can take a print of two fingers, specifically the left and right index finger. It is then instantly traced to the SLED database, where the print is checked and returns to officers and notifies them of a hit. It could signal that the person has a prior arrest or a current warrant out for his or her arrest.
Before an officer can use the Rapid ID Device, Berry explained there is specific training as well as special requirements when it comes to using the machine.
According to Berry, the individual must give consent to have prints taken and there must be a legitimate law enforcement purpose for the print that can be held up in court if necessary.
However, the machine isn't just valuable to the Myrtle Beach Police Department. Often times, the police force works with the Horry County Coroner to identify victims.
Horry County Coroner Robert Edge is considering getting a Rapid ID Device for his department to use.
“If we don't have that, we have to manually fingerprint them. It has to be sent to SLED and that takes a little time. Time is sometimes of the essence and the faster we can locate somebody to identify them, then we are better off,” said Coroner Robert Edge.
SLED points out the Rapid ID Device has a response time of a minute or less. Often times, the coroner's office faces obstacles in identifying a person.
“They do not have IDs on them and we can't identify them in a short period of time. It puts us in a bind trying to locate friends or family that know them,” said Edge.
Edge explained his office works with the homeless population, which poses additional challenges.
“Mainly in our area it is homeless people that have left home and it is hard to identify them. In situations like that, it will be our most beneficial area,” he said in reference to why the office is considering buying a Rapid ID Device.
He hopes the information provided by the device could lead them back to the family of the deceased.
“It's hooked into a South Carolina database which is good for us. But if it were hooked into a national center, like the FBI, that would be great,” said Edge, hopeful the device may expand to national databases in the future.
The Myrtle Beach Police Department is one of the only departments on the Grand Strand with this technology. SLED pointed out the device does not store fingerprints.