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Fingerprint Technology is a Keeper

What’s the deal with older men pretending to be teenage boys? Is it some sort of desperation that leads these predators to prowl? Whatever the case, Stephanie Hartnett knew the man following her 13-year-old daughter to their Roslindale, Mass., home wasn’t the teenager he claimed to be.

No, in fact, he is a level-three sex offender from Texas.

Hartnett has taken some matters into her own hands trying to persuade city officials to purchase portable fingerprint scanners for police vehicles. With such technology, law enforcement can quickly find out when a suspect is potentially dangerous. Any man chasing after teenage girl is suspicious.

The fingerprint scanner can, in four minutes, identify who that person is. In this case, a positive identification was made because as a registered sex offender, the man’s fingerprints are on file.

Hartnett’s daughter met a man who claimed to be 17 on “what was supposedly a kid-friendly” site. Turns out not to be so friendly after all. In a scene remotely familiar to the “To Catch a Predator” series, the man boarded a bus in Austin, Texas and headed to Boston. As the plot unfolded, Hartnett call 911 and Boston police sent several cruisers to her home.

Police arrested 28-year-old Aaron Johnston, who had been convicted of possessing child pornography and charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child.

Not surprising, the American Civil Liberties Union has said the use of scanners could raise privacy concerns.

I applaud Hartnett for her courageous battle to help police get scanners installed in police cruisers, but use them only when there is probable cause. The ACLU raises a valuable concern, but in drawing the distinction between privacy and security of children, the potential predator has far exceeded any line drawn in the sand when asked to give a fingerprint for verification.

About the Author

Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.

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