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Historical Policing Documents Turned into Useful Digital Data


Parsons Police Department Records Coordinator Marshall Sills uncovered some of Parsons storied criminal past while inventorying records. Parsons PD is in the self-assessment phase of accreditation with the Kansas Law Enforcement Accreditation Program (KLEAP). This entails the Department reviewing policies and procedures, as well as reviewing records retention and a host of other requirements covered in KLEAP's 167 accreditation standards.

Sills located approximately 14,000 fingerprint cards, including some dating back to the 1950s. These cards paint not just a colorful picture of the community's criminal activities, but the documents still have a value in the criminal justice system. These pieces of law enforcement history will undergo digitization through a joint effort with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI). The cards have been boxed up for transfer to KBI and weigh nearly 1,000 pounds.

Once the cards are digitalized, they will be entered into the KBI Automatic Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) and will help in expanding the breadth and depth of that electronic identification system. This technology will allow for the conversion of the cards into digital format, making them easily accessible to law enforcement agencies and provide an invaluable resource for identifying potential suspects and solving cold cases.

Parsons PD switched over to using the AFIS system in the 2000's and has been scanning arrestee fingerprints electronically since then. This has eliminated the old paper fingerprint cards, except for citizens who have to have an inked fingerprint card for various licensing purposes.

"The ability to scan arrestee fingerprints and obtain confirming identification of an individual along with their criminal history using the current day AFIS system that we have, was a huge jump forward," said Sills, "from the pre-2000 era of paper and ink fingerprint cards. That was a slow process of manual fingerprint classification and mailing cards to the state or the FBI when needed."

The recovered fingerprint cards represent a unique slice of Parsons' law enforcement heritage, offering a glimpse into decades of criminal investigations and identification procedures. The Parsons Police Department is committed to preserving and modernizing these records for future generations, ensuring that this valuable historical data is not lost with the passage of time.

"We are grateful to our new Records Coordinator, Marshall Sills, for his dedication and attention to detail in unearthing these fingerprint cards," said Chief Robert Spinks. "Preserving and digitizing these records is not only a testament to our commitment to modern law enforcement practices but also a tribute to the generations of officers who worked tirelessly to protect our community."

According to Officer Mark Raney, the agency's Accreditation Manager, "this is another value that law enforcement accreditation helps to spur agencies forward in reviewing the many kinds of records that are currently on hand and to update records retention policies and procedures."

This initiative reflects the Parsons Police Department's ongoing dedication to embracing technological advancements and enhancing its capabilities to serve and protect the community effectively. The digitization of these historic fingerprint cards is a testament to the department's commitment to both the present and the future.


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