West VirginiaUniversity, home of the first-of-its-kind forensic identification program, announced Thursday (Nov. 21) it has added the most advanced Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) to its forensic programs criminal research facility.

In a partnership with SAGEM Morpho, a proven provider of mission critical biometric solutions and services, students of WVU s Forensic Identification Program will be able to use the newest AFIS technology in their coursework for the first time. Students of this program are trained for recruitment by law enforcement organizations at the federal, state and local levels.

WVU President David C. Hardesty Jr., Michael Yura, director of the WVU Forensic Identification Prorgram, and SAGEM Morpho executives presided over the unveiling and demonstration of the latest biometric technology at WVU s Biometrics and Computer Forensics Lab on the Evansdale campus.

“Higher education and the private sector frequently collaborate with extraordinary overall benefit, and our work with SAGEM Morpho is an example of this kind of synergy,”said Hardesty.”Their AFIS technology is second to none, and our Forensic Identification Program is befitting of a system such as theirs, making this a natural partnership for the benefit of our students.”

WVU s Forensic Identification Program was established in December 1997 when the University and the FBI signed an agreement that led the way for WVU to become the first University in the world to offer a degree in forensic and investigative science and biometric systems. Since the programs inception, WVU has led the way in developing the academic competencies necessary for various disciplines within these fields. The program has experienced remarkable growth since its inception with more than 400 students now enrolled in the program.

“Forensic science plays an important role in both international and domestic law enforcement issues ranging from criminal investigations to tracking terrorist activity,”said Dr. Yura.”As the nations leading forensic science research school, our students benefit tremendously from direct access to the most advanced biometric technology in the world.”

SAGEM Morpho, which already provides biometric technology in the United States to more than 35 government and law enforcement organizations worldwide, will house its AFIS technology in the newly developed Biometrics and Computer Forensics Lab in WVU s Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. The AFIS equipment is designed to digitally capture and identify latent fingerprints left at crime scenes and on other pieces of evidence for matching against a database of arrested individualsfingerprints. In digitally capturing a fingerprint, users of this technology can positively match a suspected criminals fingerprint in a fraction of the time required for fingerprint matching using traditional ink-rolled fingerprints captured on paper.

“Biometric technology is playing a growing role in the advancement of forensic research and were pleased that our technology will play an integral role in this development,”said Jean Marc Suchier, president and CEO of SAGEM Morpho.”Our technology partnership with WVU is a perfect collaboration of higher education research and private sector technology expansion and represents the only program of its kind in the U.S.”

This gift in-kind to the Forensics Identification Program will count in the $250 million Building Greatness campaign being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University.

Biometrics background

Biometrics is defined as the use of unique identifying characteristics such as fingerprints to distinguish individuals from one another. Fingerprints have been used for more than 100 years by law enforcement agencies to identify criminals, and have begun to see increased use in recent years in more civil and commercial applications worldwide such as state welfare systems, national census programs, access to buildings and other secure facilities, information security and other applications where positive identification is of paramount importance.

About SAGEM Morpho

SAGEM Morpho, a proven provider of mission critical biometric solutions and services, develops, manufactures and integrates biometric technologies, products and services into government and business processes. SAGEM Morpho applies 20 years of global experience in fingerprint identification to deliver trusted biometric solutions to meet customer needs in government and commercial sectors. SAGEM Morphos solutions are in use by more than 35 government agencies, including statewide systems for customers such as New York, Texas and Arizona. SAGEM Morpho is a wholly owned subsidiary of Groupe SAGEM .

*About SAGEM *

SAGEM is the global leader in the provision of biometric solutions for business and government. Groupe. SAGEM is a Paris-based high technology group which enjoyed consolidated sales of $2.85 billion in 2001. The company employs more than 13,000 people in more than 20 countries. In addition to biometrics and security, SAGEM provides products and services in the fields of telecommunications and defense. SAGEM has also been awarded the 2002 Frost&Sullivan Market Engineering Leadership Award for excellence in fingerprint identification systems and for global biometric industry leadership. The shares of SAGEM SA are listed on the Paris Stock Exchange.