Police failing to take thousands of fingerprints

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Lawmakers heard testimony Wednesday that police are failing to fingerprint thousands of the suspects they’re arresting, in a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

The lapse means some offenders don’t show up in criminal background checks. It’s a violation of state law.

Police departments have been working on the issue for several years now. But the findings from the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency show that 13 percent of offenders who were prosecuted in court, still didn’t have their fingerprints on record in 2013.

The Commission says that number improved from back in 2006, when a third of suspects through the system without being fingerprinted.

A State Police spokesman says the courts also need to do a better job ensuring cases aren’t disposed of without fingerprints taken.

“Lot of shortcomings within the judicial system I think, holes that need to be plugged above and beyond the police not fingerprinting,” says Lt. Col. Scott Snyder. “Some responsibility, there should be come check and balances within the judicial process at the court level.”


The Commission has been working to track fingerprinting in local departments. The data shows smaller departments struggle more. For instance, the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office only fingerprinted 2 out of 10 suspects last year. The Harrisburg Police Department failed to fingerprint more than 250 people, and York City Police missed more than 100 people.