Computer glitch hampers fingerprinting at many CT police departments

State police departments were forced to use old-fashioned ink fingerprinting techniques after being unable to log into a new $ 22 million fingerprint system that was commissioned on July 25.

State police and teams from Idemia, the Europe-based tech company that designed the system, will be touring the state this week, helping to connect police services. Meanwhile, officials have worked with Idemia representatives to create short-term solutions as they determine why the system is not working. Police departments have been told the system may not be fully operational until August 9.

Officials said a number of issues arose when police were unable to log into the system. The first was to identify the arrested suspects. Many departments took ink prints and took the fingerprints to state police to review the system, which significantly slowed down the criminal background check process, officials said. .

But police are also doing background checks on potential employees, from teachers and security guards to school bus drivers and nursing home workers, and those services have been delayed in several cities.

“Due to technical difficulties the Danbury Police Department has discontinued all fingerprinting services until further notice, we apologize for the inconvenience”, reads a notice on the Danbury Police website.

Some departments have seen their connections re-established, such as South Windsor Police, who alerted residents on Thursday evening that their fingerprinting system was back online and appointments could be made to get fingerprints .

South Windsor Sgt. Mark Cleverdon said the ministry initially could not access the new system with the special code he received. Each department is assigned a code that is supposed to be entered to access the system and download fingerprint data.

“We had to go the old fashioned way for a few days and use ink and fingerprint cards for anyone we arrested,” Cleverdon said on Friday. “It’s like with any new system – there are going to be problems, but we are resuming appointments for residents. “

“We are still doing the fingerprints, but some departments are down due to user errors,” said Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner James Rovella.

“We have focused on getting the larger police departments online and we will have teams that will visit smaller departments this week for everyone to have access to,” Rovella said. “All state police barracks can use the system and take fingerprints if necessary. “

Rovella said at least five Idemia teams will be in Connecticut today to deploy and visit police services still not online.

Alleged “secret agreement”

The slow deployment is the latest issue in the contract that was approved by former Commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Safety, Dora Schriro, in 2017.

The program is already a year and a half behind schedule and costs the state significantly more than the original contract, according to court records. The previous contractor, Gemalto Cogent, also filed a lawsuit still pending in state court who alleges that state officials illegally circumvented regulations and awarded the contract to Idemia without submitting it to an offer.

So far, the state has paid Idemia more than $ 14 million, according to state records.

The new system is supposed to streamline the entire process by allowing each state agency or police department to access the database itself without the help of state police. Each state agency will have its own machine that allows them to upload and verify fingerprints, just like each pricing department.

Rovella said the old system was “obsolete” and needed to be replaced.

Rovella is named a defendant in the 2019 lawsuit brought by Gemalto, even though he was not a commissioner when the new firm was hired. The lawsuit alleges that the contract was not properly initiated to bid and that Gemalto was denied the opportunity to bid, even though they had been managing the state’s AFIS fingerprint system since 2004.

The lawsuit alleges state officials struck a “secret deal” with Idemia “that will cost the state millions and millions of dollars.”

The contract is for $ 22.2 million but asks the state to renew it for another five years if it wishes.

The state is asking a Superior Court judge to dismiss the lawsuit because state officials followed the proper procedure and were granted permission to apply for the contract under an emergency authorization from the State Standards Committee.

This committee is made up of the commissioner of the administrative services department, the state treasurer’s office, the state comptroller’s office and several others appointed by the governor, and they determine when a state agency can waive. to the competitive process for reasons of urgency. for any contract over $ 50,000.

In this case, this committee waived the permanent tendering process in December 2016, according to the records.

“The waiver of the competitive bidding process was authorized by a committee of various agency representatives in accordance with the law after DAS worked diligently with DESPP to ensure that a waiver was appropriate,” said writes Assistant Attorney General Christine Jean Louis in a motion for summary judgment.

“Any alleged error or misinformation along the way reflects an intention to comply with the law in good faith and does not reach the level of fraud, favoritism or corruption, which is the standard necessary for the court to intervene to protect the general public, ”Louis wrote.

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