iPhone Technology Future Crime Fighters' Best Friend? Matches Eyes, Facial Features to Data Base

Brockton Police Demonstrates MORIS (CBS/WBZ)
Brockton Police Demonstrate MORIS (CBS/WBZ)

BROCKTON, Mass. (CBS/WBZ) The Brockton Police Department is acquiring a new crime-fighting tool you'd be more likely to see in the futuristic film "Blade Runner" than in an economically challenged urban police department.

"This is the first department in the world to have MORIS," says Sean Mullin, president of Plymouth-based Biometic Intelligence and Identification Technologies.

His company developed MORIS, which stands for Mobile Offender Recognition and Identification System.

It allows a police officer on the street to identify suspects and get their criminal records in seconds by comparing the iris of their eyes, or facial features, with a database being built with a desktop unit already in use at Brockton's booking desk and the Plymouth County Sheriff's Department, that takes pictures of offenders' eyes. The officer must be within a few feet of the suspect.

Mullin described the device as an iPhone on steroids.

Biometric has been awarded a contract to provide the new system for more than two dozen police departments and 14 sheriff's departments. The $200,000 funding for MORIS is made possible by a federal grant to the Massachusetts Sheriff's Association.

The hand-held iPhone-like units cost about $3,000 a piece.

Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph McDonald, who has been building a database of inmates for several years, says he hopes to have fingerprint matching capabilities in the field over the next couple of months. He sees the system as a way of improving public safety while reducing costs.

"Ideally, I'd like to see it become a piece of standard operating equipment that every officer would carry much like they carry a portable radio today," said Brockton Police Chief William Conlon.

The chief says his department will use the biometric technologies only in strict compliance with all laws and court decisions. For example, he says the portable device won't be used for routine traffic violators.

He plans to use the one he has now in his gang unit and hopes he can afford a few more over the next few months.

Story Contributed by CBS Affiliate WBZ