2006-07-29 / Top News

Police Eye Video Arraignments

By Leslie Rott

The Mackinac Island Police Department may receive Livescan and Video Arraignment systems by late fall, Police Chief William Lenaghan told members of the Public Safety Committee Thursday, July 20.

The Livescan system, which is basically a computer console with laser plates, takes digital fingerprints and has the ability to record mug shots. Fingerprints are instantaneously sent for processing and comparison to the Michigan State Police in Lansing via a secure Internet connection.

Before, Mackinac Island Police Department could have waited up to three months for a state response and up to six months for the federal government to get information on criminal history, but with Livescan, said Mr. Lenaghan, it is now done while the person is still at the police department.

Livescan fingerprint images can also be stored digitally, rather than in file cabinets, or can be printed on paper.

By January of 2007, Chief Lenaghan said, all police agencies in the country need to be converted to a digital system, because the federal government will no longer accept traditional ink-on-paper fingerprints.

The system is being purchased by the city for $13,900, but $7,500 of that will be funded from a U.S. Department of Justice grant.

The police department also hopes to install a video arraignment system to expedite the need to take most prisoners to the county court house in St. Ignace.

The system is two feet by four feet and has a camera, a microphone, and a viewing area.

According to Chief Lenaghan, 200 of the 300 arrests made last year could have been transferred to the

video arraignment system. The City, he said, spends at least $25,000 a year on boat tickets, overtime, and other resources for transportation, and he estimates that in the first year, even with training and the cost of the system, it will save the City half that amount.

He noted that the new system will also be less embarrassing for the arrested person, who will no longer have to be taken over to St. Ignace in handcuffs.

The 92nd District Court has offered to pay for at least some of the costs of the system. Currently, Judge Beth Gibson comes to the Island for court two weeks per month.

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