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Minnesota Legislature

More fingerprints more cases solved

Published (2/24/2012)
By Lee Ann Schutz
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There are situations when fingerprinting is required of a suspect — most are related to felonies, gross misdemeanors or targeted misdemeanor arrests or charges. However, sometimes the step is inadvertently overlooked. Law enforcement officials say more open criminal cases could be resolved if fingerprints could be better linked to cases.

Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center) sponsors HF2160 that would permit fingerprinting a suspect arrested for any offense.

“The fingerprint is our way to associate all records that need to be connected with that individual,” said Katie Engler, legal analyst for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

She said the bill only allows for fingerprinting a suspect re-entering the criminal justice system who was previously involved in an incident that would have required the procedure, but where it was overlooked.

The House Data Practices Subcommittee approved the bill Feb. 20 and moved it to the House Civil Law Committee. The bill has no Senate companion.

Rep. Mary Liz Holberg (R-Lakeville) raised concerns that the bill’s provisions would open the door to fingerprinting for more incidents. Before the bill reaches the next committee, she would like to see a greater safety net cast, to ensure that local officials follow a standard similar to one set by the BCA.

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