Several Minnesota police departments are field testing a handheld device that scans a suspect’s fingerprint and digitally checks it against Minnesota’s criminal history and fingerprint database.

Police and the device maker say it’s helping law enforcement officers identify suspicious persons quickly when they don’t have a driver’s license, but defense attorneys and civil liberties advocates are wary.

The device, IBIS (for Integrated Biometric Identification System), was recently put to work when a 25-year-old St. Paul woman was stopped at the exit of Rainbow Foods in Eagan carrying baby formula that had not been purchased.

She didn’t have her driver’s license and gave police several versions of her name. Within minutes, IBIS identified the woman, who had four warrants out for her arrest for shoplifting and providing false information to police, said Eagan police officer Jennifer Ruby.

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