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Bureau of Criminal Identification

The Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI) serves as the central repository and clearinghouse for all descriptive and demographic information on individuals arrested and convicted of crimes in Rhode Island. As such, BCI maintains over 1,147,532 individual criminal history records. These records are based on fingerprints containing identification segments obtained by local and state law enforcement agencies that are forwarded to the BCI office by mail or electronic transfer. Of vital concern to those relying on the records maintained by the BCI is the quality of the data contained in the system. The completeness, timeliness, accuracy and readability of all records maintained must be, and is, the highest priority for BCI.

BCI maintains more than 1,147,532 individual criminal history records.

The Integrated Automated Fingerprint System (IAFIS) is used to transmit fingerprints from local and state police departments to the BCI’s Rhode Island Criminal History (RICH) database, which, in turn, electronically transmits those fingerprints to the FBI, where they are checked against a national database of more than 50 million prints.

Rhode Island’s electronic criminal print submissions have a turnaround time of 1.23 days, with the national average being 13.77 days.

Ninety-nine percent of the police departments in Rhode Island electronically transmit those fingerprints directly through RICH, which is a tremendous resource to obtain proper identification and criminal history information in a timely manner.

According to a study by the FBI, Rhode Island’s electronic criminal print submissions have a turnaround time of 1.23 days, with the national average being 13.77 days. The BCI Unit also reported that the electronic non-criminal, non-federal ten-print submissions have a turnaround time of 2.6 hours.

Arrest Fingerprint Cards/Dispositions

BCI processes, on average, about 1,020 arrests per week that are populated into RICH records and updated in real-time.

The foundation of the criminal history system in the State of Rhode Island is the fingerprint card – the most dynamic means of positive identification readily available. RIGL §12-1-10 requires Rhode Island law enforcement to promptly furnish the Attorney General’s Office with fingerprints and descriptions of all persons arrested, excluding those charged with violations of city or town ordinances or similar minor offenses. Today, fingerprint cards and arrest information are automatically submitted from the 55 Live Scan units in service in Rhode Island, covering 99% of the police departments, directly to the Rhode Island Criminal History Records database and the FBI.

Last year, 15,850 dispositions were entered into RICH.

BCI processes, on average, about 1,020 arrests per week that are populated into the RICH records and updated in real-time. Last year, 34,879 fingerprint cards were electronically and manually submitted from arrests, and 18,140 civil fingerprint cards were also processed to BCI by local and state law enforcement.

In order to maintain the complete and accurate tracking of all fingerprint cards received by electronic transfer, members of the BCI must continuously monitor the submitted transactions for quality control, verification, consolidation and submission rejections prior to submission to the FBI. Disposition information received from prosecutors at the Attorney General’s Office is also entered into the system. Last year, 18,847 dispositions were entered into the Rhode Island Criminal History records.


RIGL §12-1-12 directs that those authorized to collect identifiers of persons arrested shall destroy them within sixty days after the accused has been acquitted or otherwise exonerated. Further, chapter 12-1.3 of the R.I.G.L. calls for the expungement of criminal records when certain criteria have been met. As the central repository for criminal records, the BCI Unit must delete the record of arrest in those cases where the accused has been acquitted or exonerated. In cases of court-ordered expungements, the BCI Unit acts within sixty days of receipt of the order. In 2013, approximately 8,273 expungements were processed.

Expungements are received in the BCI Unit via the mail, or from defense attorneys or defendants who deliver the notice in person. Although the Unit has up to sixty days to complete the expungement procedure, BCI personnel generally complete the order within two weeks.

Once an expungement order is received, the corresponding charge is removed from the petitioner’s criminal history file. The Interstate Identification Index (III) is then accessed to determine if the charge is listed in the FBI’s criminal history database. If the charge appears on the III database, a request is generated to the FBI requesting its removal. The expungement orders are filed and destroyed after one year.

Latent AFIS System

Latent finger/palm prints are those recovered from crime scenes either by photography, dusting powder or a chemical reaction that allows a finger/palm print to be viewed with the naked eye and compared for identification purposes.

Police departments throughout Rhode Island send in latent prints lifted from crime scenes which are then scanned into the database where an electronic search is conducted against the local and national criminal fingerprint database. Results of the search are then reported to the requesting police department. The BCI Unit provides latent fingerprint searching services to all Rhode Island law enforcement, as well as out-of-state law enforcement agencies, resulting in the successful clearing of numerous criminal cases through latent fingerprint identifications . In 2013, BCI personnel processed 351 cases (351 latent fingerprints), resulting in 23 positive identifications (a 13.29% clearance rate).

AFIS personnel also assist police departments with implementing all transactions and identifying unknown subjects, such as deceased individuals and amnesia victims. In 2013, AFIS personnel took over 5,930 fingerprints for assorted reasons, such as out-of-state brokers, nursing licenses, alarm licenses, massage therapists, private security, lottery, child care and print cards. They also fingerprinted over 58,949 criminal and civil prints in 2013. AFIS personnel must verify criminal information daily.

AFIS personnel are also called upon by police departments for training and by the courts to fingerprint a defendant so as to identify them as the subject in questioning.

Criminal Record Requests

One of the major functions of the BCI Unit is responding to individuals requesting criminal history checks. Due to increased security measures in both the provate and public sectors, the need for employment background checks continues to rise. On average, personnel at the BCI window in Providence served more than 300 people each day, Monday through Friday. In addition, BCI personnel respond to thousands of requests received annually by mail.

In 2013, the BCI Unit generated $381,235 in state background check fees, an increase of $11,130 over the previous year.

There are several Rhode Island statutes which mandate that individuals seeking employment or licensing in specified healthcare, childcare and education fields are subject to a nationwide criminal history background check.

Pursuant to the statutues, individuals seeking employment or licensing may respond to their local police department, the Rhode Island State Police or the Office of Attorney General, where they are fingerprinted. Upon receiving the information from the FBI, BCI staff notifies the employer by mail detailing a clean record or disqualifying information.

During 2013, BCI personnel processed 2,186 health-care national background checks, approximately 2,450 school applicant background checks, and 2,124 national background checks for employees at Twin River and Newport Grand. In total, BCI processed 8,380 national background checks for various employment and licensing requirements.

Rhode Island state law required that any person seeking employment with a private school or public school department undergo a national and State criminal background check. These individuals are to respond to BCI instead of their local law enforcement agency for the background check. In 2013, the Attorney General’s BCI Unit processed approximately 2,448 school applicant background checks.

Restraining Orders/No-Contact Orders

Rhode Island law specifies that all domestic violence and sexual assault protective orders must be filed in the Restraining Order/No Contact Order (RONCO) system located within the Attorney General’s BCI Unit.

In 2013, BCI staff entered 910 temporary restraining orders/restraining orders and 5,478 no contact orders into the database.

Orders generated by District, Superior and Family courts, police departments and bail commissioners must be filed upon issuance by faxing or delivering such orders to the BCI Office no later than the end of the day they were issued. Modifications and terminations of such orders must also be forwarded to BCI and entered by the end of each day.

Security Guard Licensing

Under R.I.G.L. §5-5.1-13, the Attorney General is responsible for the licensing of the private security guard business. The obligation is set forth in the Rules and Regulations established pursuant to the Private Security Guard Act of 1987. Federal guidelines now require that all security guards be fingerprinted for a national background check. BCI is charged with ensuring that all security guard companies, their employees and management personnel comply with the Act. Presently, BCI has 90 active security guard licenses on file.

Warrant Tracking

Since converting to a paperless warrant system, the courts and police departments enter their warrants into the Rhode Island Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (RILETS). Warrants for those wanted outside the State of Rhode Island (New England area or nationwide) must be entered and cancelled manually by BCI personnel. On occasion, local warrants must be upgraded as additional information is received on the wanted individual and the warrant is extended from “RI only” to New England or nationwide. During the course of the year, BCI was also responsible for the arrest of 137 individuals who had an outstanding warrant and appeared in our office for BCI record checks.