According to Al Sharp, Polk County Sheriff’s Office chief deputy, the local department is the first in Georgia to be able to electronically transmit digital mug shots for access by any other law enforcement agency in the country.
Sharp said that Polk County was chosen as the pilot agency based on their working relationship with Paragon Total Solutions – the company that provides the photo technology and all other software the Sheriff’s Office uses.
Since the software was installed over two weeks ago, the mugshots of everyone booked through the Sheriff’s Office has been electronically sent to an internet database at the Georgia Criminal Information Center (GCIC), to be accessed by other police departments across the country. The software is being paid for with a $5,000 grant obtained by the Sheriff’s Office through the GCIC.
Bill Holland, assistant deputy director of GCIC, said that because of Polk’s success with the system, other counties are starting to utilize the technology as well.
“Since their [PCSO’s] successful testing and operation several other counties have followed suit and it is the plan of GCIC that this capability be implemented statewide through county jails.”
Along with fingerprints, the digital mugshots are routed to the FBI once received by the GCIC, Holland said.
The biggest benefit to this technology, according to Sharp, is the time saved that would normally be spent by investigators trying to obtain a picture of a wanted suspect.
If a criminal from Polk County moves to another state and commits a crime there, investigators would have no problem obtaining a picture in order to put a face with the crime.
This technology also enables the Polk County Sheriff’s Office to quickly learn if a suspect being booked through their department is wanted in any other states.
The process can take as little as a half-hour, a quicker amount of time than it takes for a suspect to be bonded out upon being booked in, according to Sharp.
Several other states are involved in the process, Holland said, and over the next two years, Georgia will be building its database for nationwide use.
“At present, we are merely populating the database with these photographs,” Holland said. “When a substantial number of these photographs have been received statewide…. access to these photographs will be made available on a statewide basis and from the FBI on a nationwide basis to law enforcement and criminal justice agencies.”