I just got finger printed

by Ted on February 10, 2012

Here is an adventure that I just must tell you about.

I am now retired, well almost retired, and I am spending a lot of time around the house.

It seems that I am getting in my wife’s way and it has been suggested that I get involved with some activity out of the house.

I selected to get involved with a group called Seniors Resource and Outreach Centre in Kelowna.

The areas that I expressed interest in were helping seniors with computer stuff and one-to-one visitation.

I was and still am quite excited about this.

So, now we get involved in some of the requirements for the job. A 3 hour course on what seniors are and what situations some may be in. You know, loss of hearing (I know this one because I can’t hear very well myself), loss of friends and loneliness, and some loss of mobility for some of the older seniors.

One of the other requirements is to have a “Criminal Check”. This is to eliminate anyone that has a conviction for any offense that would make them not welcome for working with children or seniors,

Ok, I am raring to go. I get the forms from the Seniors Resource office and go to the local RCMP office in Kelowna and fill in the forms.

The receptionist checks all of the information and verifies my name, address and birth date. All looks ok so far. Now she enters my date of birth into a national data base of birth dates and there is a match and that seems to cause a bit of wrinkle in my application for a Criminal Check. Apparently people many years ago, if they had a criminal record, had their name and date of birth entered into a federal data base so that a criminal check could be done on them in the following years where necessary. Sounds good so far.

However, there was the possibility that a person could move from one province to another and change their name. And, it seems that the provinces were not required to send in this name change information to the federal data base. And this means the the person with the new name would not be found in the federal data base and thus would get a clear criminal check. Hmmm, I wonder who designs these systems.

The solution now is that to ensure that any person of a certain age who wants to get a criminal check, they must be fingerprinted. Hmmm, this could be interesting but what a waste of time and money for the system to do this.

Attempt 1

Ok, I say to the clerk, I want to get finger printed now. No, she says, there is nobody available to do the fingerprinting today or tomorrow because all staff is busy steam cleaning the jail cells.

You must come back Thursday or Friday. “Ok”, I grumbled and went away. You must know that I live many miles (kilometers) from the cop shop and it a round trip is about 60 minutes so I try not to make too many such trips.

Attempt 2

On Friday, after my swim, I go to the RCMP office again and show my paperwork to the clerk. The time is about 12:15 pm. She checks it over again and says that if I want to have my finger prints done today then I must come back at 1:30 pm. Apparently all the staff that are capable of doing the fingerprinting are away or on lunch together until 1:30. I was not amused and left. The clerk on my previous visit neglected to tell me that finger printing could not be done from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm.

Attempt 3

Once again I visit the cop shop. This time I make a trip specifically to get the finger prints and arrive at about 10 am. My wife is with me. “It shouldn’t be too long I say.” “Ha” she says. “This is a bureaucracy that we are dealing with. Nothing is not too long. Ha.”

The clerk checks the documents again and takes my money. The province of BC charges me $30 for the process. The federal government would have charged me $25 but gives an exception for charities. So much for BC government helping charities. The province seems to be making it difficult for people to volunteer. This criminal check should be free IMHO. And they do not accept Credit Cards. Only cash or debit cards.

Ok, I am ready finally to get the prints. “Go outside and through the parking lot to a door labeled with a huge sign labeled C.” she says. Ok, we go out side and find the door labeled C and push the buzzer. No one answers. We wait for 2 or 3 minutes and press the buzzer again. Finally someone says “YES” and I say “Fingerprints”. A person says “Enter and sit and wait” and the door is unlocked and we enter and close the door. We are in a narrow little room with a wooden bench attached to the wall and a bulletin board with about 60 mug shots. The bench is fastened securely to the wall; I guess to prevent it from being stolen by the visitors or being used as a weapon by those tired of waiting.

There are 3 doors; one through which we entered and is now locked so we can’t get out, one into a little “confessional” with a post with a small wooden top as a chair and a window to allow some sort of conversation with a clerk or policeperson inside, and the third door, I expect will lead into the finger print room.

Waiting Room Mug Shots

Waiting Room Mug Shots

We wait. and wait, and wait. My wife gives up. We must re-fresh the parking meter so she bangs on the 3rd door and asks to be let out. A woman clerk opens the 3rd door a crack, peers out for peek, and presses a button and the main door open and my wife escapes.

Now, I wait and wait.

Finally, the clerk opens the door and asks me to enter.

Well, it seems that the fingerprint room is in the cell block which explains the security with locked doors and buzzers, and of course jail cells. This is not the place I wanted to be right now as interesting as it is.

Finally I will get my finger prints done. Finally. Maybe

The fingerprinting process is now electronic and computerized. The old ink fingerprinting stuff is still there on a table against the wall but the new system is in the middle of the small room.

The process begins.

The process is to take a full image of the 4 fingers of each hand which they call the “slab” and each thumb and then each finger individually.

She scans my driver’s license. My first and second name come up in one space so she has to delete and then manually enter the second name in the proper field.

The postal code is scanned with a space between the 2 sets of characters but the fingerprint program wants no space. This is because IMHO the program is from a US company and has not been modified to suit Canada. Saved some department some money on the purchase but is costing all the other departments in extra time retyping. Go figure.

Now the scanning. I rub a lotion on all of my fingers. This, I am told, is to make a better scan.

Ok, we proceed. First finger. Scan. Bad scan, not distinct. “Oh, I guess there is too much lotion” she says. So I use the little wet tissues to wipe all of the lotion off of all of my fingers. “Let’s try again” she says. Scan, Bad scan again, not distinct. And we try again and again. The clerk is getting a bit frustrated with my fingers.

Finally, she looks carefully at the offending digit and says “I know what the problem is. You are old and you have worn the finger prints off of this finger” So on the computer she selects an option that says “Indistinct because of age” She continues.

This process continued for all of my fingers and she ended up selecting the bad scan reason as “Indistinct because of age” for each.

What a process. Now we are finished I think. She prints off 2 legal size sheet of paper with the prints and my name and dates and a place for me to sign off.

I scan the sheet and find that my last name has been misspelled. It was “RCHIBALD” and should have been “ARCHIBALD” , the “A”was missing. CRAP.

The system was designed by an idiot. There is no function to go back and make a change somewhere, like to add the “A” back to my last name.

So, you guessed it. The whole process had to be re-done right from the beginning. The scan of the driver’s license scanned ok but the “A” was missing again. It looks as if the BC Drivers License system has a major flaw. The name as printed on the license beside the photo is entered from a different source than the name in the magnetic strip. Now what idiot designed that system? And who signed off on it?

The second scan of all of my fingers went much faster because the operator knew this time exactly what to do. Scan, select the reason why “Old fingers” ha ha.

I checked the spelling of my names and signed the documents and I was finished. What a process.

On the way out of the locked room and to freedom and fresh air, the operator said “You know, if you committed a crime and left fingerprints at the scene, we could NOT match you with the prints we now have on file. Have a good day”

Hmmm, That got me thinking.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

David Coath May 19, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Hi Ted
Enjoying your blogs. What an ordeal just to volunteer. Government at its’ best.

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