Pinal joins dozens of sheriff's offices and correctional facilities across the nation using BI2 Technologies, a Massachusetts-based biometric intelligence company. The company gives local law enforcement iris-scanning capabilities and a database shared by participating agencies.
Much of the database was created through federal funds. In 2009, the National Sheriffs' Association purchased multiple iris-scan machines from BI2 Technologies with a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Justice Department.
About 45 agencies throughout the U.S. were gifted with the scans to better identify, register and track inmates. Pinal County was not one of them.
Fred Wilson, the National Sheriffs' Association operations director, is behind the effort. Wilson said some sheriff's departments were using iris scans to identify missing children and at-risk adults.
The Pinal County Sheriff's Office used $30,000 in inmate welfare funds to purchase three scanners for jail use and one to capture sex offender data.
Sean Mullin, president and CEO of BI2 Technologies, said the database, which holds more than 300,000 inmate profiles and more than 100,000 profiles of sex offenders, continues to grow as more law-enforcement agencies embrace the technology.
It is unclear if any Maricopa County law-enforcement agency utilizes iris scans. But Jay Davies, a Peoria police spokesman, said his city's officers had access to facial-recognition software, another biometric technology, through the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center.
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