Valley Sentinel Staff
In the mid-1800s, William Herschel, working as a British officer in India, recognized the value of fingerprints as unique and permanent forms of identification and recorded clients’ fingerprints on contracts. In 1892, Buenos Aires police officer Juan Vucetich successfully matched bloody fingerprints found at a murder scene, signaling the first time fingerprints were used in a criminal investigation (the mother did it).
Fast forward to 2016. Michael Prilutsky carefully removes an electronic fingerprint scanner from its case. The size of a toaster and top-lit with a green glow, this hi-tech device replaces the messy ink and paper fingerprint collection method that often smudged and smeared and required re-dos. There are fourteen digitized fingerprints taken on the inkless machine, Prilutsky explains: two flat thumbs; two flat "slaps" (which are the four fingers from the index to the pinkie), and ten individual rolled fingerprints.
This is Live Scan fingerprinting and it is operated through the Department of Justice. California was one of the earliest states to implement the Live Scan system in 1997.
U.S. authorities collect fingerprints through Live Scan when people apply for licenses, certifications, and employment and volunteer positions that put them in contact with children, the elderly, and the disabled. When all of these uses are taken together—along with convicted felons—about one out of every six people in the country has a fingerprint record on file with the DOJ or FBI.
Prilutsky is the owner of 925LiveScan, an authorized mobile Live Scan fingerprinting service based in San Ramon, and he serves the interests of employers and licensing agencies who are authorized to run criminal offender record information (CORI) checks through the California DOJ to verify a subject’s suitability for employment and for positions of trust.
"Criminal history background checks through Live Scan is about adding another layer of safety and protection for individuals, families, children, and the community," says Prilutsky. Live Scan accesses state felony convictions and, when approved, federal criminal felony convictions (a second report through the FBI) "for the public good and for keeping privileged information secure."
California DOJ technicians process about two million state-level background checks and more than one million federal-level background checks annually, and the trend continues upward as the number of requests for criminal background checks continues to escalate reflecting increased safety and security concerns, even amid privacy issues.
Quite likely the licensed tradesperson who enters your home to fix the refrigerator, repair the leaky sink, insulate the attic, or install new windows has been Live Scanned. As has been the nanny you hired to care for your children, the school tutor provided to work out those math or chemistry issues, and the new soccer coach, fourth grade teacher, and daycare aide.
Fingerprints are transmitted to the state DOJ over landlines only, no wireless transmissions, and all information is wiped from the machine after thirty days. In California, only a certified fingerprint roller or qualified law enforcement authority can perform fingerprint collection, and only with the subject’s permission.
"We see daily the need for information regarding a person’s background—we want to know whether or not he or she poses a threat to others around them—at work, at school, on the sports field, in the daycare center or assisted living facility," says Prilutsky. "If you’re going to be an athletic coach in a youth league, for instance, the parents of those children in your care as a coach have a right to know that you don’t have any type of offender record in your background. If somebody is going to be an in-home aide for a senior, then that senior and family and friends should feel safe and secure knowing that that individual doesn’t have any felony convictions involving domestic violence or elder abuse."
There is also a level of public trust that people such as licensed notaries, Realtors®, and financial advisors are given. Clients have the right to know and feel confident that the person coming into their homes and handling sensitive and private documents has been vetted through Live Scan.
There are more than fifty authorized Live Scan locations in Contra Costa County, including most local police and sheriff’s departments, business service centers (such as UPS and Postal Annex stores), and mobile service providers. For more information, visit the State of California, Department of Justice online at www. oag.ca.gov/fingerprints.