The Haddonfield Police Department is in the process of upgrading two key facets of its crime-fighting technology. Thanks to the state, at least one of those methods is due to arrive by the start of the next fiscal year.
According to Police Chief Jason Cutler, the department has been getting by on tech that’s approximately 15 years old, utilizing Windows XP, which is an antiquated operating system for the statewide, computerized fingerprint database that has undergone recent alterations.
“It all comes with bail reform. Our Live Scan system interfaces with the state, and that’s how we create all summonses or warrants, through the fingerprinting. Microsoft doesn’t support that anymore, and the company that supports our Live Scan system says we have such an old system, that as of July 1, they will no longer support it,” Cutler explained.
New software and hardware are necessary, Cutler said, not only to upgrade the computer system to match the state, but also to keep up with mandated advances in the fingerprinting process.
“They’re mandating palm prints. We just used to use the fingertips but now the FBI is starting to compile a list of palms too. It’s fingerprints and then palms separately, not the whole hand. We do the 10 fingerprints, five on each hand, and then you have to roll your fingers, and then you do the palms. Those are the core hardware and software issues and we can’t currently do it,” he added.
Naturally, the question arises of why the department hung on to outdated and outmoded technology for a decade-and-a-half.
“It worked, and the company supported it. We were paying a yearly maintenance fee to support it. Funding is always an issue, and we try to always get the most out of our equipment. We’ve reached the useful end of this equipment. I know Chief Stuessy had put in for it in years past because we knew this day was coming,” said Cutler.
Once the new technology takes root, Cutler said it would only relate to criminal activity in Haddonfield and the state. Fingerprinting youngsters to track them for missing-children cases, or for license applications, will still go by the old rules and the old system.
“We’ll do courtesy fingerprinting for the kids. We still ink them on paper. We also do out-of-state licensing like real-estate licenses, nursing licenses, but they’re all still the rolled fingerprinting technology from the 1930s,” Cutler said.
Regarding upgraded breathalyzer technology, Haddonfield’s top cop said that’s going to arrive a little bit further down the road.
“I was just looking ahead once the state mandates this,” he said. “It could be anywhere from six months to a year, probably. So we’re looking at the latter part of 2019 or somewhere early in 2020. I wanted to be ready and prepared and to have the money earmarked so we’re not scrambling once they (state police and the attorney general’s office) actually say ‘you need to have it implemented by this date.’”
Cutler said the equipment, known as Alcotest, is currently being tested after the state settled on a newer model, and now they’re making sure that’s the model that will be definitively rolled out.
“I think they already put it out in a few police departments. They’ll do tests to try and build up some case law, then they’ll (state police) mandate when all police departments will have it,” Cutler stated.
“It’s all standardized,” he said. “So we can’t just say we like a certain model. The state police has the ADTU (alcohol, drug-testing unit) that they do all the testing for the AG’s office and they recommend which system to go with.”