NAPLES — Florida employers waiting on fingerprint background checks could get their results up to two months faster as ink pads are tossed aside for electronic submissions.
On the directive of the FBI, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement stopped accepting ink fingerprint cards earlier this month, requiring submissions to be digitized. The FDLE processes fingerprints for people who have given a potential employer permission to review the results from the FBI.
While the hard cards sometimes took up to eight weeks to mail to the FBI and fully process, the digitized versions can be checked out in a matter of days, said Tim Giesecke, FDLE senior management analyst supervisor.
"With electronic submissions, we perform our search and get back to the customer in no more than 72 hours," he said. "(The employer) can then vet out and make their decision much faster."
In Lee County, the Sheriff's Office spent about $50,000 to upgrade three existing machines and buy two new ones, said Denise McKenna, patrol civilian manager.
"But we're good now from here on out," she said. "It's a good investment, and we can service the whole county."
Staff members at the Collier County Sheriff's Office, which has one fingerprinting machine, have been playing "catch up" after they were told they had to go digital, said Lt. Scott Barnett of the sheriff's technical services bureau.
"A lot of people are not used to the technology, so it takes a while to explain what to do," Barnett said. "We only do it by appointment."
Because there is only one machine, only about five people can be fingerprinted per hour, compared with about 20 when ink cards were used, he said.
But the actual process of scanning a person's fingerprints should only take a couple of minutes, said Lt. John Barkley of the Naples Police Department.
"Plus," he said, "no dirty fingers."