Sheriff using JAG grant for fingerprint scanner

Sep. 21—Utilizing one of the fingerprint scanning devices at the Pittsburg County Justice Center can sometimes be challenging.

Ozzlyn Lightle at the Sheriff's Office handles the fingerprint scanning equipment used for fingerprint background checks for some members of the public, including school teachers and other school employees.

Sometimes, everything goes smoothly, but sometimes the equipment crashes or has other problems.

On Tuesday, Lightle took the fingerprints of Felicia Hunt, who needed it for a background check to serve as a substitute teacher at Hartshorne Public Schools. This time, the scanner completed the process as needed, but Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris said at other times the equipment malfunctions and the entire process must be repeated.

Now, Morris is looking to eliminate the problem. He plans to use funds from a Justice Assistance Grant/Local Law Enforcement Program to purchase a new fingerprint scanning device to replace the problematic one.

Morris said he plans to use most of the $10,000 JAG/LLE grant for the new equipment.

He said he already has quotes on the cost, which will total approximately $9,000. Two fingerprint scanning devices are currently in place at the Pittsburg County Sheriff's Office. One is in the Pittsburg County Jail for bookings and the other is the problematic one closer to the front of the sheriff's office, used primarily for the public.

That fingerprinting machine is used in a number of ways.

"We use it to check fingerprints for concealed carry permits, for teachers and school employees and for guardianships and adoptions," Morris said, citing a few examples.

Morris is not surprised the device is presenting some challenges. He said it's been at the Sheriff's Office since the administration of previous Pittsburg County Sheriff Joel Kerns.

"We've been having some problems with it," Morris said of the problematic device. "The one we have now is outdated. It constantly crashes and we have to reboot it." As a result, a fingerprinting session that should have taken five minutes can take up to a half-hour to complete," he said.

Once the new fingerprint scanning device is in use, Morris figures the public fingerprinting process will be vastly enhanced. Morris said Julie Padgett at the Sheriff's Office wrote the successful grant application to pay for the new fingerprint scanning equipment.

Pittsburg County commissioners approved the federal JAG/Local Law Enforcement grant during their regular Monday meeting. Morris said the next step is to order the new equipment, now that the county commissioners have approved the action.

Since the JAG/LEE grant is for $10,000 and the sheriff expects the new fingerprinting equipment to cost around $9,000, Morris said he will check the grant guidelines to determine how the approximately $1,000 he figures will be left over can be spent.

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