City launches new child ID program

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Imagine that you're shopping with your son in a large retail outlet. You're looking through a rack of marked down merchandise when you turn back to make sure your child is still standing near by when you realize he is gone.

Panic grips you and you sprint to the front of the store. Instead of running frantically down each store aisle, you grab a small credit card sized CD from your wallet and rush it to the store's security desk. In seconds, your son's picture has been downloaded onto a computer and his image is being shown on in-store TV screens.

A flyer is printed and distributed to store employees. This flyer, created from the disc you had in your wallet, includes a picture of your child, finger-prints and a detailed description of your child's identifying features. Within minutes, your child is spotted in the children's book section, sitting on the floor with a book in his hand.

The scenario described above is fictional but the small CD containing information about the missing child is a reality.

This new technology will soon become available to Cassville area residents thanks to a new program that is being launched by the City of Cassville and the Cassville Police Department.

With the purchase of two laptop computers and Net Focus digital identification system software and equipment, the city is now set up to provide parents with permanent identification records for their children.

The portable system was purchased by the city at a cost of $4,100. It includes two laptop computers, digital fingerprint scanners and small cameras that are mounted to the top of the computer screen.

The system's software allows for a child to be photographed and fingerprinted within just a few minutes. A detailed description of the child and a short 30-second video can also be recorded.

All of this information is entered into the computer and saved on a compact disc, which is then given to the parent or guardian. Once the information is saved onto the CD, it is immediately erased from the computer system. None of the information, images, video or fingerprints are retained by the sponsoring agency.

The mini disc, which is small enough to fit into a wallet, can be used by the parent if a system began back in March of 2006.

"The clerk staff has done a great job during this process," said Williams. "Without their dedication and hard work, consolidation would fail."

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