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RCMP updates fingerprinting technology
Improved turnaround times expected on criminal record checks

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Friday, May 13, 2011

IQALUIT - Anyone living in Nunavut and who is trying to get a criminal record check done to accompany a job application or to volunteer knows it can take several months to get the results.

NNSL photo/graphic

The Iqaluit detachment of the RCMP V Division is now using a LiveScan fingerprint and storage system. It is hoped the electronic system will speed up the time Nunavummiut have to wait for their criminal record checks. - Emily Ridlington/NNSL photo

The RCMP is hoping its new LiveScan fingerprint storage and search system will speed up the process.

"It's good for us and it's a breath of fresh air compared to the old system," said Cpl. Kevin Lewis to Iqaluit city councillors at a meeting on April 26.

Similar to the system used by Toronto Police Services, a laser scanner is used instead of ink and paper.

Sgt. Chuck Duncan is one of the V Division officers who use the machine.

"It reads your fingerprints using light, heat and moisture," he said.

This new system generates criminal records and criminal histories. Now, a response will be generated in seven or eight days.

He said if an individual has no identification or refuses to give police their identity, they can get the results back in minutes.

All fingerprints are sent to a central repository in Ottawa.

It is hoped the new system will help people like Iqaluit resident Matthew Ayres.

After having taught for many years in the territory in Cambridge Bay and Hall Beach, Ayres took a hiatus from teaching. When he tried to get back into the profession, he hit a snag. His criminal record check could not be cleared because a sex offender had stolen his identity. This now means he has to get a criminal record check done every three months.

"If I'm a parent with a child at the school, I would want this to happen too, but now I have to go through an enhanced record check every three months for the rest of my life," he said.

He has already coughed up $35 for a total of $105 in the process.

Aside from the delay being an inconvenience, he lost his job. In the fall of 2010, he was already setting up his classroom and was ready for the students but his name was still getting flagged that he was a sex offender.

Ayres, a member of the military and who works at the RCMP as a guard in the cells, said he is not the only one in Nunavut and in Canada facing a similar situation.

With this new way of doing fingerprints, he said he hopesthe process is going to be quicker.

Iqaluit city councillors Mat Knicklebein and Romeyn Stevenson, both of whom are teachers, said they are pleased the detachment has gone ahead with this.

"I know from personal experience and in my field, the old system was cumbersome and frustrating and people were losing employment opportunities," Stevenson said.

So far the technology has only been implemented in Iqaluit as it costs approximately $50,000.

Lewis said eventually every detachment would like to have the same technology available to them, adding the detachment can hook join up to a national system and can also search the database of the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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