Local law officers to get access to license photos

Suspects will be less apt to use fake names

By John Branton, Columbian Staff Reporter

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Police and 911 dispatchers call it the “name game,” when officers have a wanted suspect who’s trying to give them a false name to avoid a trip to jail.

Several years ago, police said a man got off the hook temporarily by giving his brother’s name, which later led to problems for the brother.

Some of that is supposed to end in Clark County in the next few weeks, when a computer system called ACCESS will allow officers to pull up images of drivers’ licenses, photos and all, from the state Department of Licensing.

“This is about catching bad guys who are trying to deceive us by using fake names,” Chief John R. Batiste with the Washington State Patrol said in a bulletin. “We are now able to completely determine the real identity of these people.”

Officers can see the mug shots and other information on their in-car computers.

Lewis County was the first county in Washington to get the system, made possible by a $300,000 grant.

“Having DOL pictures instantaneously will help us in a lot of ways, including identifying people for criminal investigations, traffic stops, hit-and-run collisions and helping missing or lost people,” Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield said.

ACCESS stands for A Central Computerized Enforcement Service System.

“The ACCESS system is managed and operated by the WSP’s Criminal Records Division and is designed to give law enforcement the ability to query multiple state and national databases as a tool in the administration of criminal justice,” the bulletin said.

Besides Washington, the system will operate in Idaho and Oregon, the bulletin said.

In the soon-to-become olden days, officers sometimes had to rely on written descriptions of physical features such as height, weight, body build, hair and eye color to make a positive ID.

The funding is from the State, Regional and Federal Enterprise Retrieval System and from the Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority.