Since we have started this blog, my focus has been on one specific TSA program, the Alien Flight Student Program (AFSP). For that, some of our General Aviation (GA) followers might be saying to yourselves, “What about me?” Well, fear not, oh loyal GA population, this post is all about you.
One of the biggest hurdles we see when processing GA fingerprints for a Criminal History Records Check (CHRC) is with fingerprints being collected by a law enforcement office (LEO). It is important to realize that you have a couple choices in where you go to get these fingerprints collected and, while general consensus may be that they are the same, we know that it is not the case. Below, I have laid out just some of the common errors that we encounter when companies choose to have an LEO collect fingerprints.
Timing is everything
Our industry has become extremely fast paced, information-on-the-fly environment. When you begin the CHRC process, you want your results as quickly as possible. With LEOs, however, there are several risk factors that you should consider.
The process when ordering and receiving print cards can get convoluted, which threatens to slow the process by a few days to a week. The print submission can only be done by snail mail as LEOs cannot submit prints via a digital device/livescan. This can again extend the process by days or a week.
And this is the case if shipping goes smoothly, your cards don’t get damaged, shipped to the right place and so on. And, one of the most common mistakes we see here is that the employee may forget to mail the prints at all! This all can add weeks on the process.
Perception is reality
The perception with LEO prints is that they are the best when it comes to taking good, classifiable fingerprints. Many think that they are highly trained and do this all the time. However, the reality is not so.
While, yes, law enforcement officers do go through training, it is like shop or a home economics class in middle school. This is not why people become police officers and this quickly becomes that class that they need to simply get through to get to the proverbial lunch. Combine that with the skills involved in taking the fingerprints of a drunken, 250 pound individual at 11:30pm on Saturday night is dramatically different than what the experience is when it comes to taking prints for civilians and civil programs.
In my experience, some of the worst fingerprints I have seen have come from law enforcement.
Putting all the pieces together
Getting prints taken at an LEO is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. There are a bunch of pieces that are oddly similar and they all need to go into just the right place at the right time to make sense and work. If you have tried to brave these waters, you likely have encountered one of the following issues:
- Employee(s) going to be fingerprinted without proper ID or paperwork
- Fingerprints taken on the wrong media or card type
- Employee gets prints taken but doesn’t have proper forms completed
- Law Enforcement sends employee to a fingerprint contractor, which is an unauthorized collection site
- LEO tells your employee they no longer collect civilian prints
- Forms and cards don’t get mailed to the proper location, if mailed at all.
Overall, these are just some of the examples of the issues that we witness on a daily basis. In general, LEOs just are not as well trained or familiar with TSA programs and simply will only perform the task of putting an individual’s inked fingers on a card, potentially not even rolling them. This leaves the rest up to you.These delays that can be easily caused by LEOs are, in this fast paced environment, simply unacceptable. If you have to have someone’s prints re-taken because a law enforcement official didn’t want to do the prints that day, you are on the hook and now find yourself weeks behind.