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Biometric entry planned for California skate park!

Biometric entry planned for California skate park!

Things are definitely getting out of hand when you start reading articles like this – the City of Poway in California is going to introduce biometric scans of skaters thumbs to allow or disallow entry into the skate park. One thing is making sure vandalism, bullying and disregard of certain rules don’t take place, but making a skate park look like you are trying to travel overseas and you are getting on a plane? What do you think about it – leave a comment, I want to know!

Here’s the complete post from the San Diego Union Tribune website:

“POWAY — City officials hope to reduce vandalism, bullying and other problems at Poway Skate Park by requiring that children and adults enter the park via a “biometric” thumb scanner.

Skaters and visitors will only gain access through the park’s turnstile once their thumbprint is scanned by the device, which officials hope to have installed by Friday and functioning by April 19.

Park users will be asked to register at the park starting tomorrow to coincide with spring break. Skaters will be required to sign a liability waiver, provide a thumbprint and have their photo taken. The photo and thumbprint will be uploaded to a computer. There is no cost for registration, and admittance to the park is free.

Surveillance cameras also will be installed at the park, so that city officials can match video of violations with photos on file. Skaters may be denied access to the park for days, weeks or indefinitely, depending on the severity of their actions.

Greg Sundberg, Poway senior recreation supervisor, said the skate park has recently experienced many problems, including vandalism to the restrooms, graffiti, fires and visitors bringing bicycles into the park, which is not permitted.

Poway parent Shelly Smart said her sons, ages 7 and 9, are only permitted to skate on Family Night because of her concern about recent events. She said she would be more comfortable allowing her children to visit the park at other times once the scanner is in place. City staff does not monitor the park regularly.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Smart said of the scanner.

The scanner, manufactured by NextgenID, cost the city $5,700, said Frank Casteleneto, a city engineer. City staff hopes the scanner also will help curb minor violations, such as skaters not wearing helmets or kneepads, or kids sneaking bicycles into the park

Though the city discussed issuing identification cards to park users, Sundberg said the idea was scrapped. “It would be too easy for them to just hand their pass back and forth,” he said.

Out-of-town visitors will be required to provide a thumbprint for temporary access to the park.

Sundberg said the system would allow the city to restrict usage to certain age groups on specific days.

“We can program these scanners so that we can have a kids-only day … or an adults-only day,” he said.

Poway residents Josh Thomas, 17, and Rancho Bernardo resident Matt Valencia, 18, said they view the scanner as a violation of their rights, but would probably submit their prints to avoid driving to skate parks in Escondido or Ocean Beach.

“I don’t want (the park) to be trashed, but I don’t think this is the way to go about doing it,” Josh said.

Ramona residents Erika Jacobs and Adam Small visit the park several times a week. Jacobs said she understands the city’s desire to create a safe environment and keep the park maintained, although she feels that security cameras would be enough of a deterrent.

She added that those intent on creating problems would probably avoid having their thumbprint taken and climb over the fence.

There are “so many ways to get around it,” said Jacobs, 20. Kids are smart.”

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