County to purchase $17.5 million system to book suspects into custody

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County supervisors are buying a brand new system for booking criminal suspects into custody at a cost of more than $17.5 million.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a recommendation calling for the county to pay DataWorks Plus LLC, $17.5 million to deliver a “criminal booking system” to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Whenever a person is arrested and the suspect is booked into custody, deputies use the same fingerprinting technology they’ve used for close to 15 years.

The compelling new feature promised by DataWorks is a state-of-the-art “iris scan,” which interprets unique individual eye characteristics.

Iris recognition technology is not the same as retinal technology.

Iris recognition uses a camera, similar to a digital camera, to capture an image of the iris, whereas retinal scanning involves getting very close to the scanning device, which sends a beam of light inside the eye to capture an image of the retina.

In weighing their decision to invest, supervisors were furnished with a history of the LASD’s booking process.

In 2005, the county bought 173 ‘livescan” devices, which were installed in every LASD station including the one used inside the SCV Sheriff’s Station on Magic Mountain Parkway.

A check with the jailer at the local station Wednesday confirmed that booking people into custody locally, using livescan, involves taking their fingerprints and their mugshot photograph.

The livescan system used across the county catalogues 1,200 fingerprint files each day on average.

Since 2005, the county has tweaked the livescan system as the technology developed, and signed service and maintenance agreements every few years to keep the system working.

In a letter of endorsement for DataWorks technology, County Chief Information Officer William S. Kehoe urged supervisors hire the firm.

The decision came down to a choice between two booking systems, Kehoe said in his letter to supervisors.

“The evaluation committee was comprised of subject matter experts from the county, including ISAB (Information Systems Advisory Body), and from law enforcement agencies throughout the county,” Kehoe wrote.

“The committee independently reviewed and scored the proposals based on predefined evaluation criteria in accordance with the board’s informed averaging guidelines.”

Kehoe said in his recommendation that DataWorks was found to be “the highest-scoring qualified proposer. The department (LASD) recommends board approval of the subject agreement.”

DataWorks Plus, based in Greenville, South Carolina, provides law enforcement with cutting-edge technology nationwide. It boasts on its website a dedication to providing agencies with affordable, top-of-the-line products to improve productivity, efficiency, and the safety of officers and other agency staff.

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On Twitter: @jamesarthurholt

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