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Urbana gets new fingerprinting technology

The Urbana Police Division, with the help of an anonymous donor, has purchased a new web-based fingerprinting system that will help it keep the community safer, according to Sgt. John Purinton.

“Now officers will be more apt to take these prints on every arrest, not just the required ones,” Purinton said. “It is a major time-saver. It just used to take a long time and it was messy process.”

The system is called Webcheck, an Internet-based system that takes pictures of the oils on a person’s hand to make a fingerprint card. The machine then sends the prints to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In the past, Urbana police officers would use ink to get fingerprints of criminals. The process was messy, time consuming and became outdated in 2008, Purinton said.

For the last six years, officers would only get the prints if they took an inmate to the jail or if the crime required them to do so, because the process was so involving.

Now Purinton said officers will take every inmate’s prints before they leave the station.

“It does make me feel way safer now that I know they will be fingerprinting everyone,” Urbana resident Miranda Smith said.

The new system will also allow Urbana police officers to do civilian background checks for jobs like teachers.

Smith was a pre-school teacher and said she had to go to Springfield to get her fingerprints done.

“That will make it so much easier,” Smith said.

The new Webcheck system will also help the department broaden its searches on solicitors in Urbana. The city requires solicitors to get a background check. Part of the background check is getting the person’s fingerprints.

The old system would allow for officers to only check the prints against Urbana records, but now they can check the prints against the entire state’s database.

The Webcheck system cost $13,075. An anonymous donor came to the station and asked if there was anything the division needed and gave $7,500 towards the fingerprinting system. Purinton said the division would not have been able to buy it this year had it not been for the donation.

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