Baltimore police considers fingerprint scans to control overtime

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BALTIMORE (WBFF) - As the Baltimore Police Department works to get overtime spending under control, officers could soon be required to scan their fingerprint to clock in and out of work.

Baltimore Police Spokesperson T.J. Smith said: “Once this technology is in place, your fingerprint is essentially your time card. Instead of ‘punching the clock’, you’ll be ‘scanning the clock.'"

David Gray, Professor of Law at University of Maryland, Baltimore, is an expert in technology and privacy issues.

He said fingerprint scans are becoming more common.

“How better to ensure someone was there than to take their thumbprint?" pointed out Gray. “That's a unique identifier that can’t be alienated the way someone would sign a piece of paper last week and file it today.”

While the technology is exciting, he warns it’s not well grounded.

“Certainly nobody in HR at police will abuse their access to fingerprints, but you can imagine a criminal hacking into those databases and gaining access to 10,000 fingerprints from law enforcement officers with good credit and homes, and those are valuable tools in the same way social security numbers may have been used in years past," he warned.

As the use of biometric technology increases, security issues do as well.

“This is a relatively small thing, and I’m sure for their HR department it was an easy choice to make, but it's representative of a broader set of surveillance possibility through biometrics that should give us pause and BPD pause before they endorse this as a way to engage with their police force.”

Police spokesperson T.J. Smith says so far they do not have a timeline on implementation, but it is something that has been in the works for quite some time.

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