Technology and Time

So, I had to go get fingerprints done for background check et cetera. (No, I haven’t been having THAT much fun this semester. But insurance and all that sort of thing . . . ) Anywho, the last time I did this was 19coughcough, when it was for DoD clearance checks. That was ink on cards. I’ve seen the machines, but never tangled with them.

Now, unless you have very unusual circumstances, the process is electronic. You don’t go to your local police or sheriff any longer. You go to someone who has a contract to do the finger-print taking, provide proper ID, and they use computers and a box with a glass lid. The press-roll-confirm step is still the same, and the scanner is a bit of a challenge for the short of finger. I discovered that I had to move the other digits as the tech rolled the print onto the scanner. That almost required more coordination than I was capable of after working all day.

The entire process took fifteen minutes, from walk-in-the-door to walk-out-the-door. It cost around ten dollars. The place allots ten minutes per customer, and they are booked solid all day, every day. Any license that requires ID and background checking goes through them for fingerprinting. The scans are then sent straight to whichever agency needs them (nurse certification, police, license-to-carry, employer, what have you.)

So, who does this not work for? People without fingerprints, or with fingers so mauled that the computer throws a fit. The program has a relatively wide set of parameters, but some people fall outside those. Sometimes it is because of working with chemicals (or acidic fruit) for extended periods. Other people wear the prints off handling rough surfaces – masons and brick-layers are well known for having missing fingerprints. If you fall into those categories, the computer scanner won’t work. Instead, you go to the sheriff and they try to take the prints. If they get the same non-standard results, the sheriff’s office will certify that indeed, 1. you are you and 2. you have unusual prints that don’t fit the computer parameters, and off you go.

Some things change, others don’t. It was an interesting process.

9 thoughts on “Technology and Time

  1. I’m informed (never having tried it myself) that some people take delight in photocopying various portions of anatomy in an unclothed state. Might some of these be used for identification purposes?

    (I can just see the average cop saying, “Oh, no! I ain’t going there!” when such ID is offered for comparison with the “real thing” . . . )


  2. Washington State got the print machines to the court houses, so that’s handy– I think the cops use it when the CDL guys aren’t. (When I got my concealed carry the place was open for like four hours on every third Tuesday between nine and two, or something equally silly.)

  3. Around here, most background checks are done through the sheriff’s office. They use an electronic scanner as well, for both those and for concealed carry permits.
    I had to get paper fingerprints from a LEO recently; it was surprisingly difficult to arrange.

    Oddly enough, for some ATF paperwork you can take your own fingerprints… I would have thought that was a security breach, but nobody asked me.

    • The local police used to take my prints for ATF paperwork. But when I went down for a card to send with another Form 1 a few years ago, they acted all put out over it; hell no, they wouldn’t take my prints. I had to drive to a central processing center fifty miles one way.

      “But if I throw a rock through the front window, you’ll take my prints right here, right?”

      Perhaps sensing an undercurrent of hostility, the officer said “Please don’t do that.”

  4. Mine are a bear to get to register on the machines, my best guess is that it’s because of all the years as a healthcare provider and washing my hands all day.

  5. Long ago when I was graduating from college I was interviewing with the NSA. Part of the process was prints. When it came my turn a young woman in naval uniform (corpsman perhaps?) was taking my prints. When she got to my left index finger her comment was ” Don’t commit any crimes or if you do don’t do it left handed they’ll pick you up in a flash”. I had worked with a slicer in previous summer jobs and cut myself and had a large scar across the index finger. Even 35+ years later it can still be seen faintly.

  6. I get seriously cracked skin when I’m working, either outside in the dirt in summer, or most anywhere in winter. Mostly my right hand, and not helped by chemical exposure. (The leaky chlordane bottle at the hardware store job was my first, but there have been others. I avoid methylene chloride paint remover after a few interesting incidents.)

    My CCW background check was in February in [redacted]. Ink on paper. $SPOUSE’s hands (done in April) got a complaint from the deputy, with my wife responding “Well, it’s [Red, flyover] county in a dry spring. What do you expect?”

Comments are closed.