CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Clarksburg FBI complex is taking part in a $1 billion project that will enable law enforcement agencies to identify criminals and terrorists by physical characteristics more quickly and accurately, an FBI official said Monday in Charleston.
Earlier this month, the FBI center unveiled its "Next Generation Identification System," which will slowly replace an older system that can no longer handle the volume of fingerprints sent to Clarksburg.
"It's bigger, better, faster," said Stephen Morris, a deputy assistant director at the FBI Center. "It increases capacity and accuracy."
Morris spoke Monday at a Charleston Rotary Club luncheon at the Civic Center.
The NGI system, built by Lockheed Martin, allows FBI employees to conduct automated fingerprint searches and exchange information with more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies.
The FBI's fingerprint examining staff also received new "advanced technology workstations" that will help increase accuracy, Morris said.
Under the system, state and local police officers also will eventually use hand-held devices to scan suspects' fingerprints and send the images electronically to the FBI center.
"It's a quick scan to let police officers know if they should let the person go, or take him into custody," Morris said.
In later stages, NGI system also will be expanded to include the analysis of palm prints, handwriting, faces, human irises and voices.
"Our job is to study those and see how reliable they are for law enforcement," Morris said.
The FBI plans to increase the size of the Clarksburg complex significantly with the opening of a new 350,000-square-foot Biometric Technology Center in 2014, Morris said. The FBI plans to share the facility with the U.S. Department of Defense.
The FBI center, which opened in 1995, now has about 2,500 full-time workers and another 500 contract employees.
The center analyzes and identifies nearly 168,000 fingerprints a day on average. The fingerprints are used to solve investigations, prevent crime and identify criminals and terrorists.
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.