Fingerprinting at the police station

I live on an island called Bainbridge, near Seattle on the west coast of USA. I volunteered to chaperone a field trip at my son’s school next September. Because of heightened security at schools on the island, as part of the volunteering signup process I now had to go to the police station to have myself fingerprinted. I just came out of the police station moments ago.

The experience was illuminating, and reminded me just how far technology has come. It was also somewhat emotional because it was easy to imagine how terrifying the experience must be for people who have been arrested, or for people who have less trust in their local police. Also what it must be like in places where the police are not as well resourced and able to manage data like fingerprints properly for use in solving crimes. I’d be interested to hear the thoughts of members in other parts of the world on my experience and comparing it to their experience.

I filled out a simple form providing my essentials, including eye and hair color (brown), height (6 feel 2 inches - I may have exaggerated up by half an inch), weight (195 pounds - I may have exaggerated down by 5 pounds, but who’s counting), place of birth, race (W for white). I then paid a $53 fee, which will be reimbursed by the schools’ parent teacher organization, and showed my driver’s license as personal identification.

The official then entered my details from the form into a computer, and took first my left hand then my right hand to carefully scan each fingerprint. She repeated again, rolling my fingers to capture fingerprints on the sides of my fingers. All the while the fingerprints showed up big on the screen for me to watch, which was fascinating.

The fact that my fingerprints were taken will be automatically communicated electronically to the school, so now I can go and finish the volunteer signup.

Hehe its likes you are telling a tale from the future. For us in Kenya you apply online but still have to go to a Kiambu police station or Huduma centre for your fingerprints to be taken. It is a manual process that involves them making your hands dirty using some weird black ink then rolling each finger on the forms then taking the whole hand both left and right hands are taken.

In Kenya we call it the good conduct certificate or police clearance. To me it is a discriminatory document as there are those who used to be criminals but have reformed but their records still have criminal activities in them and this denies them the right to engage in any productive work as their pasts come back to haunt them.

As much as every employer takes precaution of not employing criminals, it make the rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-inmates harder and the risks of them going back to their past criminal activities higher.

Nevertheless, the process is cumbersome and is also exploited as room for corruption to fast track the issuance of the document. Though the document is issued to the applicant and is valid for six months.


interesting experience. wonder if we have anything even close to what my brother Mustafa has in Kenya. its terrible in UG. The last time i registered for my national ID it came out but then they somehow misplaced my fingerprints and their system shows they r missing.


fingerprints in developing countries are still a headache at least you can see yours on the screen/…the police departments and criminal investigation departments in Kenya lack such technology. here we only see such a technology during elections with some BVR or KIEMS kit of some sort. at least such a technology in your country can eliminate terror such as the Florida parkland Killings and other criminal activities in school\s such as abductions @tobiaseigen