The California Horse Racing Board has introduced fingerprint scanning technology to its permit process to quickly identify those applicants who are disqualified from obtaining licenses and prevent them from participating in horseracing.Using new technology that instantly transmits digitized information to computers at the California Department of Justice, the CHRB now obtains the criminal histories of applicants in a matter of hours instead of the months it routinely took to receive the same information.The CHRB processes more than 4,000 new license applications each year in 14 licensing categories, including horse owners, trainers, grooms, jockeys, pari-mutuel employees, and racing officials. Each new applicant is required to list any convictions on the application. The fingerprints are taken and processed in order to obtain criminal histories from the national database and confirm that the information provided on the application is correct. Applicants are provided with temporary licenses pending the background check. If the information from DOJ indicates a disqualifying conviction, the temporary license is immediately revoked.In the past, individuals were able to participate in horse racing for months using the temporary license, and the longer they participated, the more difficult it was to extract them from the industry when it was determined they had falsified their applications. By then, horse owners may have acquired large stables that could involve multiple partnerships.CHRB assistant executive director Roy Minami began laying the groundwork last year for obtaining and using the new fingerprint-scanning technology. When Ingrid Fermin became CHRB director in January, she encouraged the staff to implement the new "Live Scan System" as quickly as possible. CHRB chief information officer Mory Atashkar integrated the fingerprint-scanning program into the CHRB's own network and put the system through a rigorous testing process before it was finally introduced this month at all CHRB licensing facilities.
"It is the same system that Homeland Security is using to check visitors coming to this country," explained Atashkar, "as well as law enforcement agencies, port authorities, and many other government agencies. Eventually, everyone will need to have this capability because, at some point, DOJ is not going to accept the manual cards any longer."CHRB chief investigator Frank Moore said the new system is a great improvement over the manual process because "we don't want people of questionable character involved in horse racing. By that, I mean people with prior convictions for drugs, illegal gambling, fraud, and theft – the types of crimes that disqualify an applicant from participating in horse racing. The sooner we can identify them and keep them out of our industry, the better."