State Fingerprint System Flawed, More Expensive To Maintain Than To Build

Source: Tristram Korten, Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, March 9, 2014

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s troubled five-year-old automatic fingerprint identification system (AFIS) has cost far more to maintain than it did to design and build because of technical problems. It is now so unstable that it is causing delays during investigations and arrests across the state.

A former engineer for Motorola, the company that built the system, has come forward and claimed the company delivered a product riddled with problems. His claims are documented in internal Motorola reports that he said were never shared with the FDLE.

Documents reviewed by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting detail a series of costly maintenance requests and upgrades needed to keep the fingerprint system functioning properly. The documents also include internal Motorola reports recording accuracy issues with the fingerprint system. If true, in addition to delaying investigations, these problems could mean suspects weren’t identified during system searches, and criminal cases using some fingerprint evidence could be called into question.

FDLE contracted Motorola in 2007 to build the $7.4 million system. The contract was sole source, meaning no other companies bid on it. Almost immediately after its completion in June 2009, officials asked the Florida Legislature for money to address maintenance and technical support issues….