Police Begin Fingerprinting on Traffic Stops

Police Begin Fingerprinting on Traffic Stops
By Sarah Thomsen

If you’re ticketed by Green Bay police, you’ll get more than a fine. You’ll get fingerprinted, too. It’s a new way police are cracking down on crime.

If you’re caught speeding or playing your music too loud, or other crimes for which you might receive a citation, Green Bay police officers will ask for your drivers license and your finger. You’ll be fingerprinted right there on the spot. The fingerprint appears right next to the amount of the fine.

Police say it’s meant to protect you — in case the person they’re citing isn’t who they claim to be. But not everyone is sold on that explanation.

"What we’ve seen happen for the last couple of years [is] increasing use of false or fraudulent identification documents," Captain Greg Urban said.

Police say they want to prevent the identity theft problem that Milwaukee has, where 13 percent of all violators give a false name.

But in Green Bay, where police say they only average about five cases in a year, drivers we talked with think the new policy is extreme.

"That’s going too far," Ken Scherer from Oconto said. "You look at the ID, that’s what they’re there for. Either it’s you or it’s not. I don’t think that’s a valid excuse."

"I would feel uncomfortable but I would do it," Carol Pilgrim of Green Bay said.

Citizens do have the right to say no. "They could say no and not have to worry about getting arrested," defense attorney Jackson Main said. "On the other hand, I’m like everybody else. When a police officer tells me to do something, I’m going to do it whether I have the right to say no or not."

That’s exactly why many drivers are uneasy about the fine print in this fingerprinting policy.

Police stress that the prints are just to make sure you are who you claim to be and do not go into any kind of database; they simply stay on the ticket for future reference if the identity is challenged.

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