By: Matt Tota/ Daily News Staff
Milford Daily News
Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis, center, looks on as a child gets his eyes scanned as part of the new Child Project now offered by the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office.
The Worcester County Sheriff’s Department is now using iris scanning technology in conjunction with a national database that law enforcement officials use to quickly locate and identify lost or missing children.
Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis this weekend announced that his office has brought the Children’s Identification and Location Database (CHILD) Project to Worcester County.
The CHILD Project, created by both the Nation’s Missing Children Organization and National Center for Missing Adults, allows law enforcement officials throughout the country to locate and identify children using a biometric recognition system.
Iris scanning captures and digitally encodes an image of an iris, located in the eye. According to Evangelidis, the iris is 10 times more identifiable than a fingerprint. And though a person’s appearance will change with age, he said, the iris remains the same.
“Fingerprinting was a great system for many, many years,” Evangelidis said. “But now we have the next generation of technology in biometrics.”
Enrollment is now available through the Worcester County Sheriff’s office. Evangelidis plans to bring his iris scan program to schools, public events, law enforcement events and community centers. Parent consent is required. And the department’s community outreach officials conduct the scanning.
The iris scanner takes a simple digital photograph of a child’s irises. That image is then analyzed; and code is created and compared to others in the database. If a match isn’t found, the iris data is linked with the demographic information and stored at the national registry until the child turns 18.
More than 1,300 sheriff offices nationwide participate in the CHILD Project, Evangelidis said. Every day in the United States, he said, more than 2,000 children are reported missing, while a child is reported as abducted every 40 seconds.
“As sheriff,” he said, “I want to make this technology available to the families of Worcester County. I can not think of anything more important than protecting and keeping our children safe.”
The department purchased an iris scanner after Evangelidis took office in January 2011 and has offered the technology for seniors, especially those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia who may wander off, through its Triad Program.