255 – HCSO Mobile ID Policy

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I.  Purpose

This policy establishes procedures for the training, deployment, and use of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) mobile devices (“Mobile ID”).

II.  Policy

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) regional AFIS Operations includes the Mobile ID project that allows deputies to perform a rapid two-finger field fingerprint search through the local AFIS databases of the HCSO, Texas Department of Public Safety, and the FBI’s RISC system.

NOTE: The system scans the fingerprints at the Mobile ID device and transmits wirelessly to HCSO AFIS. Hit or NoHit responses will be returned to the Mobile ID device or the deputy’s mobile computer. In the case of hits, returns will include specific identifiers to whom the prints match.

Use of a Mobile AFIS device does not preclude the need for a full set of ten (10) fingerprints captured on a LiveScan for an AFIS database search for persons being charged or who are in the custody of HCSO personnel.

III.  Definitions

AFIS: Automated Fingerprint Identification System used to capture, scan, search, and identify subject matter fingerprints and photo images electronically.

LiveScan: Inkless, electronic device for capturing fingerprints in a digitized format.

Mobile ID (aka “Rapid ID” and “Mobile AFIS”): Handheld scanning device used to obtain prints from two fingers for purposes of searching AFIS databases to determine a person’s identity.

IV.  Procedures

The use or retention of any Mobile ID collected data will conform to federal and state laws. It must also conform to HCSO policy and the AFIS program procedure as follows:

A.  The deputy may use Mobile ID when there is probable cause to arrest a suspect.

B.  The deputy may also use Mobile ID during a “Terry Stop” based upon reasonable suspicion.

1.  If a person provides a driver’s license or other valid means of identification or gives the deputy a name that can be confirmed through a driver’s license check, that form of identification should suffice without the use of Mobile ID.

2.  However, if there are articulable facts that give rise to reasonable suspicion regarding the accuracy of a person’s identity, the deputy may use Mobile ID to verify identity.

C.  Absent probable cause or reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, a person may consent to the deputy’s request to use Mobile ID. However, the consent must be voluntary as defined by current state case law (i.e., the person must be informed that he or she has a right to refuse the deputy’s request). This voluntary consent will be documented.

D.  Use of the device will be documented. The documentation may be made in any report (incident report, call slip, field notes, etc.) generated as a result of the contact. The deputy must articulate the specific facts that support the basis for the use of Mobile ID and must state the voluntary compliance of the Mobile ID if used without arrest, probable cause, or reasonable suspicion.

E.  Deputies will not use Mobile AFIS devices for general investigative purposes or intelligence gathering.

F.  Scanned Mobile ID fingerprints are not retained by HCSO AFIS. The search responses are retained and archived for statistical purposes only.

G.  Contact the HCSO AFIS section if search responses are delayed. If there is no response or other problems occur, officers should contact the HCSO AFIS Help Desk for assistance .

V.  Requirements

A.  Deputies will continue to adhere to arrest procedures in accordance with all HCSO policies and procedures.

B.  Deputies will successfully complete Mobile AFIS device training, review the Mobile AFIS instructions (depending on device type), and acknowledge receipt of this policy and training prior to using the devices.

1.  Mobile AFIS training will be provided by the HCSO Field Training Section under the HCSO AFIS Operations training guidelines.

2.  HCSO AFIS Operations will provide documentation and “Train the Trainer” sessions upon request.

C.  Deputies will review reporting requirements for the Hit (Red, Match) responses from the FBI RISC returns.

D.  Damage to, Loss, or Theft of Mobile AFIS Devices:

1.  Deputies will immediately report damage, loss, or theft of Mobile AFIS devices in accordance with HCSO Department Policy #241 – County Property.

a.  A deputy will:

i.  Immediately notify his or her immediate supervisor upon any damage, loss, or theft of the device.

ii.  Complete a report of damage to or loss and submit the report to his or her immediate supervisor in a timely manner.

b.  Supervisors will:

i.  Immediately notify a HCSO AFIS Operations official of the damage, loss, or theft.

ii.  Conduct an investigation into the damage, loss, or theft of the device in accordance with HCSO policies and procedures.

2.  The HCSO will forward a copy of the report to the HCSO AFIS Operations section.


This policy has been revised on the below listed dates:

April 21, 2009

June 30, 2021

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