Newspaper

Dec 17, 2013

An Eye for an ID? Worcester County Sheriff Evangelidis Offering Iris Scans as Way to Track Missing Kids

By: Michael Hartwell
Sentinel & Enterprise News

iris scan
Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis looks through an iris scanner in his West Boylston office as he discusses how the Sheriff’s Office is offering the scans as a way to identify missing children and seniors.

By: John Love (Sentinel&Enterprise)

 

 

WEST BOYLSTON — Children can mislead, the elderly can forget, but Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis said the eye never lies.

 

Iris-scanning identification, a staple of spy films and science fiction, is already being used by law enforcement, and Evangelidis is putting the word out to parents and community leaders about his effort to scan children’s irises to store in a database.

 

Sometimes law-enforcement officers encounter lost or missing children who do not know their full names or addresses. They can now use a smartphone app to view the child’s eyes to see if his or her information has been entered into a database. If it is, the information will come up within seconds.

 

“We want to make this another tool in the law-enforcement toolbox to protect people,” Evangelidis said.

 

This month, his community-outreach team started setting up a booth at fairs and other community events to scan the eyes of kids for the database. Participation is strictly optional, and Evangelidis said children are automatically scrubbed from the database when they turn 18.

 

The scans will not take place at schools. Evangelidis said he wants to make sure all children entered into the database have parental consent.

 

He also gave the example of Elizabeth Smart, an abducted child who was convinced to lie about who she was. She was encountered by law-enforcement agents several times, but gave false information. Evangelidis said iris-scanning would have changed that.

 

“The iris never lies,” Evangelidis said.

 

Three years ago, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office started the eye-scanning program for seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Thousands have signed up, and the inclusion of children is an expansion of that program.

 

Evangelidis said the eye scan, which captures the details of the iris, are the most accurate biometric available. The iris is 10 times more identifiable than fingerprints, which can change in older people.

 

The iris, however, never changes. Even identical twins have different irises.

 

Shawn McKenna, community-outreach coordinator for the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, demonstrated how the scanner works. Individuals lean into the visor-like device and look through the glass. A camera quickly takes a photo, and the person’s information is typed into a computer.

 

McKenna said a scan of only one eye is needed for the system to work, though “we like to get both eyes to be as accurate as possible,” he said.

 

The image of the iris and the information are then put into a database in Phoenix maintained by The Nation’s Missing Children Organization and Center for Missing Adults.

 

The database is national. Evangelidis said if a child wanders off at an amusement park in Florida and has his eyes checked by a law-enforcement officer, their information will still come up.

 

He said sheriff’s departments in other counties in Massachusetts have already rolled out similar programs.

Dec 16, 2013

Sheriff Tours Town to Deliver Warmth to Local Organizations

Annual Coat Drive Fills Growing Need in Worcester County.

 

BY CHELSEA DAVIS
NEWS STAFF WRITER

 

SOUTHBRIDGE — Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis brought a little warmth to town last week, as he stopped at three locations in Southbridge for the 2013 Sheriff’s Annual Winter Coat Drive on Thursday, Dec. 5.

 

“There’s much need for the coats in this area,” Evangelidis said.

 

Evangelidis distributed roughly 480 coats to the three locations in Southbridge, giving each place about 15 bags filled with 10 to 15 coats each.

 

The sheriff first stopped at the Tradewinds Clubhouse at 309 Main St.

 

“You guys make us proud,” Evangelidis said of Tradewinds Clubhouse.

 

The employees and members of Tradewinds Clubhouse offered a thank you card to Evangelidis for the donation.

 

Evangelidis then moved to Catholic Charities, at 79 Elm St., to give more coats.

 

“We’re extremely grateful,” said Area Administrator for Catholic Charities of Worcester County Lisa Genest.

 

Catholic Charities has been offering coats for no charge during the season for nine years, Genest said.

 

“I can’t imagine how a parent feels when they can’t provide a coat for their child,” Genest said.

 

The coats were available from Catholic Charities starting Friday, Dec. 6. Finally, Evangelidis stopped at the Center of Hope at 100 Foster St.

 

“This will be so great,” said Public Relations and Administration of the Center of Hope Cindy Howard, “This will fill a void of need here.”

 

Howard told Evangelidis of the many services and events they offer to the town.

 

As he said at the other locations, Evangelidis said the Center of Hope was “very inspiring.”

 

Evangelidis became Worcester County sheriff in January 2011 and inherited the Annual Winter Coat Drive.

 

“This is his third year doing it,” said Office of the Worcester County Sheriff Director of External Affairs Kim Roy, “and he’s expanded it so much.”

 

“We went from donating hundreds of coats each year to donating thousands,” Evangelidis said.

 

Evangelidis was not alone in his donations to Southbridge.

 

“We could not be here without Spiro,” Evangelidis said, referring to Southbridge Middle High School history teacher Spiro Thomo. “The school really stepped up for the cause.”

 

Thomo and fellow teacher Rick Carraro helped to receive coats along with the Southbridge Student Council.

 

“The students on the Student Council thought it would be a great idea,” Thomo said.
Beginning at the end of October through the last week of November, students, teachers and faculty members donated coats to the cause of the Sheriff’s Annual Winter Coat drive.
“We collected about 482 coats,” Thomo said.
Twin City Cleaners of Dudley then washed all the coats before putting them in bags to be distributed.

 

“We’re so proud of all the people at Southbridge Middle High School,” Evangelidis said.

 

Prior to visiting Southbridge, Evangelidis began the day at 9:30 a.m. by giving away coats in Northern Worcester County as well, totaling more than 2,000 coats given by the last stop at 3 p.m. on Thursday.

 

There were many happy and grateful faces seen where the sheriff traveled that day.

 

“It’s amazing to me that there’s so much need everywhere,” Evangelidis said.

Dec 10, 2013

They Scored Big for Area Needy

By Jack Minch, Sentinel & Enterprise

 

LEOMINSTER — Sheriff Lew Evangelidis got an assist from New England Revolution soccer star Diego Fagundez delivering over 1,000 coats to the Spanish American Center Thursday.

“It’s an honor to do this,” Evangelidis said. “It’s a wonderful time for all of us to give back a little bit.”

Evangelidis made eight stops throughout Worcester County delivering coats.

He started in Gardner then made stops at the Cleghorn Neighborhood Center and Hope Center in Fitchburg before arriving in Leominster.

Evangelidis is scheduled to continue his deliveries in Worcester and Southbridge today.

Fagundez made a special trip to help deliver the coats to Leominster.

A black van pulled up to the center and Fagundez joined a line of volunteers hauling large black plastic bags filled with coats inside.

The Reserve Deputy Sheriff’s Association coordinates collection of the coats for the disadvantaged. The coats are new and gently used.

Wachusett Mountain Ski Area jump-started this year’s collection by donating 1,000, said Kimberly Roy, external-affairs director for Evangelidis’ office.

Fagundez who traveled with his father to Washington, wore a Leominster soccer hoodie. He recently completed his high-school coursework and will graduate with his Leominster High School classmates in the spring, and jumped at the opportunity to help deliver the coats.

“I said of course, it’s a good cause,” he said. “It’s a nice thing to do and since it’s my hometown I wanted to do it.”

The center’s executive director, Neddy Latimer, and advocate Nicolas Formaggia said there is a strong need for the coats.

“You’d be surprised there are so many people who don’t have what they need,” Latimer said.

In years past, people who needed the coats were invited to the delivery party but it created chaos so this year the center is collecting requests and sorting the coats before handing them out.

“We can make a more fair distribution,” Formaggia said.

Evangelidis started by delivering 300 coats in Gardner then 300 at each at Cleghorn Neighborhood Center and Hope Center in Fitchburg.

“I hope people know these are nice, clean coats, they aren’t just in a bag,” Evangelidis said.

Wachusett Mountain, Dr. D’Ambrosio Eye Care, the New England Revolution and Gardner Museum collected coats and jackets for the program, as well as individual donors.

“I wanted to say thank you from us,” Latimer.

Dec 10, 2013

Worcester County Sheriff Offers Iris Scan for Kids

iris scan

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.