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Sheriff's Office photographing, fingerprinting kids at Fair

The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office is sponsoring a child identification program, whereby parents can assemble digital data for use if their child is lost or abducted.

Deputy Pete Ball, who is in charge of the program, said he hoped to issue about 300 identifications during this month’s Kitsap County Fair & Stampede. This is the program’s fourth year.

The program is intended for kids from infancy to age 15.

The ID program includes a disk containing the child’s information, photo and fingerprints. The Sheriff’s office also issues an official-looking ID card.

Parents keep the disk and can then e-mail the material as needed. They also can use the ID card to prove the child is theirs.

“If a kid is throwing a tantrum at Wal-Mart then you can prove you aren’t abducting them,” Ball said. The cards also can identify children if they’re traveling in Canada, Mexico or any other place that requires identification,

The Sheriff’s office does not keep copies of the assembled data; both to protect privacy and because it does not have the available storage space.

“We purge the computer at the end of the Fair,” Ball said.

Ball said the booth is staffed by officers and people known to him and who have passed security checks, in order to protect the personal information that is gathered on site.

While they can complete 45 to 50 disks an hour, the lines can get long. He said people can fill out the paperwork and let the envelope hold their place until their name is called.

The cost for the service is $3, just enough to cover expenses. Ball said there may be a sponsor this year to pick up the costs and make the first 80 cards issued free to the public.

Ball said technology is advancing at a rapid rate, and many of the newer computers do not have floppy disc drives. For this reason, he plans an upgrade to CD-ROM technology in the next few years.

Ball said the program has not yet saved any lives or aided in any recoveries since its inception, aside from an incident four years ago when a little girl went missing at the Fair a few minutes after her picture was taken.

The Sheriff’s office printed out several copies of the picture and the girl was reunited with her family in less than two hours.

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