© 2020 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Technology & Entrepreneurship

Homeland Security Shares Biometric Data With Texas For Pilot Program

TNS Sofres

Texas law enforcement are now getting a big assist from the federal government. Texas is the first and only state to get access to a massive Department of Homeland Security biometric database through a pilot program.

U.S. Homeland Security's Patrick Nemeth says that for years, the Texas Department of Public Safety would find crime-scene prints that didn't match any with the FBI database.

"So they would start querying the Department of Homeland Security to get access to our database, since we have 212 million people in there," he says. "And a big chunk of those have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border on a regular basis."

The IDENT database houses fingerprints, photographs, iris scans, and facial images collected from the nations borders, points of entry like airports, and numerous national and international partners. 

Nemeth says that from November to April, DPS has sent 200 crime scene prints resulting in two potential matches, one in an ongoing capital murder case. 
The DPS says the database is "potentially a powerful tool" for local and state authorities.