Electronic Arrest Reporting (EAR)

DPS created the EAR program in response to a mandate of Chapter 60 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which requires the Department to be able to receive criminal history information in an electronic fashion.  The EAR program allows local criminal justice agencies to report arrests to the Department in electronic fashion.  The program is made up of many components including the local fingerprint capture station, the local records management system, the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), the Computerized Criminal History system (CCH) as well as the FBI’s Integrated AFIS (IAFIS).  The EAR program strives to navigate the maze of the aforementioned systems to deliver positive fingerprint identification to contributing agencies in a timely fashion while also facilitating the electronic update of the CCH system.  In order to fully understand the EAR concept, each of the component parts of the EAR process must be reviewed.  What follows is a breakdown of the EAR program by its various parts.

Local Fingerprint Capture Device – Because DPS will not accept arrest information without associated fingerprints, the local fingerprint capture device is the most critical component in the EAR process.  The methodology employed to capture fingerprints electronically is through a livescan.  Livescan devices allow arresting agencies to forego the use of ink and paper in order to capture fingerprints of detainees.  Using livescan, arresting agencies actually roll the subject’s fingerprints across a glass platen where the fingerprint images are digitized and stored electronically.  Livescan devices are certified as being compliant with the FBI’s Image Quality Specification (IQS).  All fingerprint capture devices must be IQS certified in order to participate in the EAR program.  The FBI maintains an updated listing of livescan devices that have received IQS certification.  Due to the requirements of the IQS, the resultant captured fingerprint images are quite large in size.  Because, in their native .TIFF format images are too large for effective electronic transport, the images must subsequently be compressed.  Furthermore, since the FBI requires that compression and must have little or no quality loss, the only compression algorithm that is acceptable is Wavelet Scalar Quantization (WSQ).

Local Records Management System – One of the key components of EAR involves the local contributor’s ability to format arrest demographic data into the EAR data format used by DPS.  This EAR data format then must be consolidated with the fingerprints digitized at the capture device.  This step generally requires that the local RMS to interface with the capture device in order to produce the final EAR record.  While in truth a local records management system (RMS) is not required to complete EAR, most local agencies have a “book-in” system already in place and are justifiably reluctant to do duplicative data entry.

EAR Record – The data format required by the EAR program is compliant with the National Institute for Standards and Technology’s (NIST) fingerprint information exchange standard as well as the FBI’s Electronic Biometric Transmission Specification (EBTS) interface document.  The primary components of the EAR fingerprint record is as follows:

The Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) – At the AFIS, the fingerprints in the Type 4 record are decompressed and searched against the existing database of known fingerprints.  At this point in the process, the need for adherence to the IQS is paramount.  If the quality of the fingerprints has been compromised, the submission will be rejected by the AFIS and the arresting agency must resubmit the transaction.  If the IQS integrity is maintained and the fingerprints are of good quality, a positive identification can be made by AFIS within minutes of the receipt of the electronic submission.

The Computerized Criminal History System (CCH) - After AFIS positively identifies the arrest fingerprints, the associated demographic data is forwarded to CCH for application to the criminal history repository.  Prior to application, CCH edits the data one final time in order to catch any data edit errors that might have made it through the earlier processing.  Once the data is applied to CCH, the arresting agency is notified of the CCH update by paper rap or through an electronic notification.

EAR Requirements – In order for an agency to participate in the EAR program, the agency must notify the Livescan Coordinator to verify the purpose of participation.  Agencies will not automatically be approved to submit electronic submissions to DPS.  The agency will also need to sign and abide by the Livescan User Agreement, fill out the EAR authorization form, fill out the Arrest Process Flow document and then provide the completed documents to the Livescan Coordinator.