The TBI is the state repository of fingerprint based criminal records information for the state of Tennessee. The Identification Services Section (ISS) is responsible for processing all criminal, law enforcement applicant and civil applicant fingerprint information. Also processed are final court dispositions, applications for pre-trial diversions and court orders for expungement of criminal records. ISS staff work closely with law enforcement personnel to ensure the quality of submissions as well as network connections for electronic submissions.
The ISS utilizes the Automated Fingerprint Information System (AFIS) to process each submission of fingerprint information to determine the identification and to build the criminal records in the repository. Criminal fingerprints can also be submitted electronically through the use of live-scan equipment. This technology allows fingerprints to be submitted electronically, except where a Fingerprint Identification Specialist must confirm a match. Use of live-scan technology in Tennessee has increased dramatically in the past few years with the help of federal grant funding for agencies purchasing the needed equipment. It results in more wanted persons being held in custody, better quality of the criminal history system and better quality of results for other systems such as the TBI Instant Check System (TICS). For instance, a person arrested for domestic violence would have previously been released on bond and free to purchase a firearm. With electronic submission of fingerprints, the person's Tennessee criminal history is updated within minutes of the arrest. Therefore, the background check for a firearm purchase run through TICS would preclude the person from being allowed to purchase the weapon.
The majority of fingerprints within Tennessee’s repository are criminal fingerprints. Every person who is arrested in Tennessee is fingerprinted as part of the standard booking procedures for law enforcement agencies. When criminal fingerprints are received on paper cards, they are scanned, processed and submitted to the TBI and the FBI constantly updating the state and federal systems.
Some employers in the state of Tennessee require their applicants to have a fingerprint based background checks as part of the application process. TBI’s Tennessee Applicant Processing Services (TAPS) runs applicants fingerprints through the system that produces a criminal history check that is then forwarded to the employer. Some volunteer organizations and licensing applications also require a TAPS check. These background checks are fingerprint based and are run through TBI’s database as well as forwarded to the FBI for processing.
Criminal history background checks are performed at the request of the court system for persons being considered for pre-trial or judicial diversions. These checks are performed in order to find out if the individuals are qualified to receive pre-trial or judicial diversion. ISS also enters final court disposition information into the criminal history database when it is supplied by law enforcement agencies and court clerks. Expungement orders come from criminal courts to the TBI and order the removal of specific information from an individual’s criminal record. TBI processes these orders forwards the to FBI for removal from the federal criminal history records.