KINGSTON TWP. — After two months on the job, the township police department’s mobile fingerprinting device identified a wanted man from Bucks County, Chief Michael Moravec said.
The device called DataWorks Plus Model Evolution Rapid ID identified 37-year-old George William Wharton after he provided an incorrect name and date of birth to Kingston Township Police Officer Robert Spencer during a traffic stop on Feb. 25, Moravec said.
“I thought it was pretty incredible, given the fact that we don’t have an opportunity to use this device as frequently as some of the larger metropolitan areas, whether it is Wilkes-Barre City or Scranton or even bigger for that matter, like Hazleton,” Moravec said. “But, in a relatively short period of time, we had a successful ID of someone who is wanted out of an area that is a significant distance from our jurisdiction.”
The arrest came out of a traffic stop for speeding south on Route 309 in an area commonly referred to as the “rock cut,” Moravec said.
“Kingston Township engages in a moderately aggressive traffic enforcement program, and the reason we do that is because we are the funnel to the Back Mountain,” he said.
Officer Spencer stopped a vehicle traveling 58 miles-per-hour in a 35-mile-per-hour zone at 4:38 p.m. The car had a male driver and a female passenger, according to the police report.
Officer Spencer approached the vehicle and its occupants. The driver identified himself as George Ashton and provided a date of birth, Moravec said.
Officer Spencer went back to the police vehicle to run the data through the computer. The search resulted in “no records found,” Moravec said.
“It is not uncommon to receive that message due to misspellings,” he said. “Officer Spencer went back to the car and said to the driver, ‘the information you are giving me is not coming back with any information.’ The driver repeated his name and maintains the same date of birth.”
Officer Spencer repeated the process two more times and warned the driver he would not be allowed to continue driving until he was identified, Moravec said.
After the fourth time, Office Spencer used the mobile fingerprint scanner to identify the driver. The device notified the officer that the individual’s name is George William Wharton, provided a photo of the man and a notification of a bench warrant for his arrest, Moravec said.
The warrant was issued on Wharton by the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County for failure to appear for a formal arraignment on Aug. 12, 2016, for charges of possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia, according to the warrant.
Wharton was arrested, processed and held at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility in Wilkes-Barre before being transported to Buck County, he said.
“This is the first time that a fingerprint scan resulted in identifying a person with a bench warrant,” Moravec said, adding police have used the mobile fingerprinting device on about 18 people since its implementation in the beginning of the year.
DataWorks Plus Model Evolution Rapid ID is a handheld device that scans a fingerprint and uses a dedicated secured signal to search through two databases with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for an identification match, Moravec said.
Before using the device, township officers would take a person of interest to the Kingston Borough Police Department or to the Pennsylvania State Police in Wyoming to use a Livescan system to identify someone.
The mobile fingerprinting device gives officers the ability to identify a person roadside, Moravec said.
Kingston Township Police Department acquired the DataWorks Plus Model Evolution Rapid ID in November through a grant from the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association.
Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews.