Services Look to Expand Background Checks at Gates

This Nov. 13, 2013, file photo shows the main gate at Camp Pendleton, Calif. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
This Nov. 13, 2013, file photo shows the main gate at Camp Pendleton, Calif. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

U.S. military bases and ports are increasingly interested in using a small, hand-held device able to quickly scan various forms of identification, check them against a wide range of existing data bases and instantly determine who should or should not be let past security and into the facility.

Gate security re-entered the spotlight after the March 30 incident at Fort Meade, Md., where an SUV with two men tried to ram into the National Security Agency gate.

Called Defense ID, the device uses hardware and software technology to scan the barcode on a driver’s license, military CAC card or other form of official ID.  A smartphone-like screen then immediately determines if the person is criminal or “bad actor” who should be detained or kept out.

In service since 2003, Defense ID has been expanding its reach in recent months as new military and government customers show interest in the technology, said Bill Roof, CEO of Intellicheck Mobilisa, the firm which makes the product.

The product is now operational at more than 20 U.S. Army installations such as Fort Polk, La., and Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and 16 ports across the U.S., among other locations.

Information from presented identification is compared against federal and local law enforcement data bases to determine if someone is wanted for crimes, has a criminal record or is on various government watch list such as terrorist lists, among other things, Roof said.

The technology has continued to evolve as newer software and faster processing speeds have become available.  Roof said Army and Air Force officials along with other potential customers have expressed interest in adding Defense ID to more locations worldwide.

“Initially Defense ID  was focused on a web crawler data base which is software going out and searching hundreds of data sources such as state most wanted lists, FBI most wanted lists and terrorist lists -- putting all that data in a database that a device would hit when you scan an ID. Eventually we added connections to federal law enforcement data bases which checks FBI, National Crime Information Center and other data sources,” Roof said.

Roof said the identification device must offer immediate results or cause major traffic jams.

“What happens is if you can’t get a quick response and you have people piling up at the gate, typically someone will make the decision to stop checking IDs just let them through so the faster you can check IDs the better. We can do it instantaneously,” he added.

Roof added that the FBI’s criminal data base is apparently queried or checked as many as eight million times in on day, something which underscores the need to move quickly and rapidly process information when assessing people at checkpoints.

“All drivers’ licenses have barcodes and we also read barcodes off of military IDs and other chips off of CAC cards. There are 211 million drivers’ licenses issued in this country right now, so that is really the main form of ID. We scan the barcode and the first thing we do is tell whether it is real or fake because we are partnered with the DMVs. If we see one bit out of place we know it is a fake ID,” Roof said.

Workers at ports often carry a form of ID called Transportation Worker Identity Credential, or TWIC, which can also be checked by Defense ID.  The TWIC credential is programmed with specific information about who is, and is not, allowed to access the facility.

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