Wanted Dead or Alive? Tracking Fugitives in the 21st Century


By Staff Reports

(DGIwire) — The phrase “hunting fugitives” may conjure up a very specific, if outdated, image for some people. They think of Western films featuring a mustachioed, bowlegged sheriff in some ten-cent saloon in a three-horse town, complete with spurs on his boots and his gaze fixed on a Wanted poster. A guy in a Stetson who looks eerily similar to the mug shot on the poster saunters into his bar and starts playing cards. The sheriff checks the poster again, just to be sure, but before he has a chance to pull his gun out of his holster, the fugitive bolts out the swinging door, mounts his horse and gallops down the dusty road and into the sunset.

These days, crime-fighting is supposedly a good deal more sophisticated. Television shows such as CSI and NCIS have trained us to believe that police work is like a well-oiled machine of top-notch forensics performed by a plucky group of experts that always get their man. In many real-life cases, though, that’s far from the case.

For example, take a story published on January 28, 2015 in the Albuquerque Journal: “Among those sought by state authorities is Timothy Mims. The 26-year-old pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in 2013 and was sentenced to a year and a half of probation…” According to the Journal, Mims’ mug shot is now on a poster of New Mexico’s Most Wanted, which has been circulating around the state.

This story goes on to highlight the successful capture of 2,615 parole violators in 2013.

Yet even with all of these captures made, 1,700 still remain at large. Clearly, the tracking procedures used to find these fugitives has to be updated to reflect modern technology. Wanted posters can only do so much these days, since they require officers to pay close attention to the poster, memorize the suspect’s face and be able to recall it instantly during a routine traffic stop or, say, at a restaurant. Cops are always on duty and always on alert; but how many times have we failed to recognize an old acquaintance just because they got a haircut or lost some weight?

Intellicheck Mobilisa, a Port Townsend, WA-based company providing wireless ID solutions, has made it a goal to bring fugitive identification into the 21st century. Its Intellicheck-Law app enables officers to scan government-issued IDs using their smartphone camera and perform a National Crime Information Center (NCIC) lookup. The app has the ability to scan driver’s licenses and license plates to ensure that neither the car nor its driver is wanted by the law. This also allows officers to quickly check that the person they’re writing a speeding ticket to isn’t much more dangerous than they thought.

“Safety for law enforcement officers and for those who they encounter during their daily duties has always been our highest priority,” says William Roof, president and CEO of Intellicheck Mobilisa. “Our Intellicheck-Law app is quick and reliable, and by checking a number of state and federal databases, it helps keep officers and citizens more secure.”

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