Louisiana sheriff’s offices now have a means of releasing mug shots of accused offenders if they use a machine provided by State Police to take those photos, a State Police spokesman said Saturday.
Numerous sheriff’s offices across the state used a system called IAFIS — the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System — to take photos of people booked and then release them to the news media for public consumption.
Confusion arose after some sheriffs concluded they could no longer release such mug shots to the public because photo files stored in the IAFIS database are not public record.
But State Police Sgt. Len Marie said Saturday that sheriff’s offices can still release mug shots taken using the machine by producing two separate images of people booked and releasing the secondary photo to the public.
The first photo file, which would contain personal information and any previous criminal history of the person booked, would be uploaded into the IAFIS system, Marie said. That photo cannot be released.
The second photo file would not contain any personal information and would belong to the sheriffs, Marie said. Therefore, such images can be released.
“It’s their photo at that point,” Marie said of the secondary photos.
IAFIS is run nationally by the FBI. It offers “automated fingerprint search capabilities, latent search capability, electronic image storage,” according to the FBI’s website.
State Police, which operates IAFIS in Louisiana, had sent messages to sheriffs advising them to be careful about sending out IAFIS mug shots.
Initial reports about the mug shot releases caused “numerous inquiries” from sheriff’s offices and the news media across the state, Marie said.
“We’re just trying to clarify all of that,” Marie said.
State Police worked with the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association to create a viable method for agencies to continue publicly releasing mug shots using IAFIS machines, Marie said.
“This method will allow State Police and its partners to use IAFIS as a proactive investigative tool, remain in compliance with federal regulations, and keep public safety as their top priority,” Marie said.
Some sheriff’s offices, such as the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office, had announced they would no longer send out mug shots.
State Police sent instructions to the offices as to how to use the new method, which involves switching to a “photo only” option when entering an inmate into the IAFIS system, Marie said.