Minnesota Counties Deploy Biometric-Based Criminal Charging System

BIO-key International Inc. recently announced that Minnesota counties are deploying BIO-key's WEB-key biometric identification software as part of a new paperless criminal charging, or eCharging system.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety, which funded the new system, believes Minnesota is the first state to move to an entirely paperless criminal charging process. eCharging allows a criminal complaint to be processed in as little as 30 minutes, whereas the previous process could take up to a full day, especially if officers had to travel a long distance.

The new eCharging system will start in select St. Louis County jurisdictions, and then expand across the county into other parts of the state this summer. It is being deployed in branches of the county sheriff's office, as well as the police departments of Chisholm, Duluth, Hibbing, Floodwood, Hermantown and Proctor.

Virginia, Minnesota Police Chief Dana Waldron has been using eCharging for about two months and says he wouldn't dream of going back to paper.

"It takes a little while to get used to it; once you do, it works beautifully," Waldron said

Leaders say the electronic filing system significantly reduces the time it takes for a criminal complaint to move through the justice system. What used to take days could now take only minutes. "I've signed two of these today already. It probably took me a total of less than five minutes to do that," observed James Florey, St. Louis County chief judge.

The eCharging solution was developed by Minnesota-based Intertech, which incorporated BIO-key's WEB-key into the document signing process to positively identify the user based on fingerprint biometrics.

"Integrating WEB-key into the application was a simple and straightforward process," said Rich Franzmeier, Intertech consultant on the project. "Establishing the identity of the officer who is electronically signing the document with fingerprint biometrics is vital to ensuring the integrity of the signature."

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