A dozen iris scan recognition systems used to help find missing children and adults now will be used by more than 40 law enforcement agencies in Maine thanks to the Galen Cole Family Foundation.
The foundation donated the money to purchase the systems at a reduced price of $10,000 per unit.
At first, the Cole foundation wanted to remain anonymous, but Penobscot County Sheriff Glenn Ross asked that they reveal their identity in the partnership he helped to facilitate.
"Their work with children needs to be recognized," he said. "We've only been asked to help in facilitating to make sure they get into the right hands."
The Penobscot County Sheriff's Office, along with representatives from The Child Project, announced on Wednesday that 12 lead law enforcement agencies in Maine have partnered with other departments statewide to provide iris scan recognition services to a total of 41 departments throughout the state.
To qualify to receive a scan system, lead departments had to have a proven record of holding child safety events and had to be willing to find partners with which to share the equipment.
"Really, it's about law enforcement working together," Ross said.
"This is the first state that it's happening in as it's happening here this morning," said Peter Flynn, retired sheriff and senior consultant for The Child Project. "You are setting the trend for the United States of America for running the programs the way you are here."
The Child Project is a secure nationwide network and registry that enables law enforcement agencies throughout the country to locate and positively identify missing children and adults. The program uses iris biometric recognition technology that compares the unique features contained in the iris against a database of individuals who enroll to determine the identity of an individual within seconds.
The program records a picture of the iris and stores it along with emergency contact information in the national database of the Nation's Missing Children Organization and National Center for Missing Adults.
"It's good for quick, fast, positive identification that is better than anything known to man," Sean Mullin, president and chief executive officer of BI2 Technologies, the creator of The Child Project, said.