As if on cue, an incoming call interrupted Omar Lucio mid-sentence as the mustachioed sheriff of Cameron County extolled the virtues of the latest biometric recognition technology. Using the recently acquired Inmate Recognition and Identification System, or IRIS, the county jail had just exposed the true identity of a man wanted by the FBI on a litany of offenses.

“We got one,” Lucio beamed, “our first.”

Lucio celebrated the addition of the iris system, with its fingerprint and facial-recognition capabilities, describing it as an indispensable tool for detecting criminals. During its annual meeting in early April, the Southwestern Border Sheriffs’ Coalition unanimously voted to partner with Biometric Intelligence and Identification Technologies, and adopt the company’s biometric program. The Cameron County Sheriff’s Office and El Paso County Sheriff’s Office have since deployed the technology. Eventually all 31 sheriffs’ offices along the U.S. and Mexico border will implement the BI2 Technologies system, free of charge for three years. To help cover the rollout cost of $2,500 per device per year across all border jurisdictions, the coalition is seeking additional federal funds.

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