New Technology Helps Police ID Offenders Faster
07/22/2010
WJZ-TV

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WESTMINSTER, Md. (WJZ)
Police in Maryland are getting important, new technology that gives instant updates about whether a suspect is on parole or probation.

Suzanne Collins explains how that could make a big difference when solving crimes.

Corporal Rad Darby ran into an information road block while investigating drug activity recently in Westminster.

"We had a gentleman take off running from us who had an ankle bracelet on, and he was trying to explain he was on house arrest in Pennsylvania, which we didn't have records from Maryland or Pennsylvania," said Darby, Westminster Police.

It took two days to find out the suspect was on Maryland home detention.

But from now on, parole and probation data is going to be available to police instantly via computer, and it will help in a number of ways.

"If they find, say, a sex offender on the school grounds and they have a question, they know now that he's under supervision," said Pat McGee, Parole and Probation.

When someone comes for their first visit with a probation agent, they will be fully fingerprinted, just like being booked at the jail.

In a demonstration, a female employee's mug shot is taken, and right away police can access information online regarding the employee.

There's an added benefit. Parole and Probation takes regular photographs of offenders every few months, so a patrolman can look at a picture online of what a person probably looks like now.

A young woman who is on probation for a drug offense told WJZ it's depressing to see more information about her mistakes in another computer database.

"I'm always going to be known as the drug addict. 'Cause all they have to do is look it up; it never goes away," said Kimberly Hayes.

But probation information will not be available to the public, only to police.

More than 40 of the new computers are already in place at Parole and Probation offices across the state.