The Nebraska State Patrol is on the cutting edge when it comes to catching criminals. 

It has a new piece of technology, called an Afis (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) device, that helps identify people they stop. 

Trooper Mike Thorson has been with the State Patrol for 12 years, and is one of only about two dozen law enforcement personnel to have used one since they came to the agency last year. 

When Thorson makes a stop, he can scan the person's fingerprint and find a plethora of information on them including name, date and place of birth, as well as state and identification numbers. 

The devices also scan the prints through state and national databases that show whether an individual has a criminal past, is a sex offender, or is even on a terror watch list.

"It certainly doesn't identify everybody, but it helps us out tremendously, Thorson said. 

People have to give their consent in order for the device to be used, but Thorson says many cooperate when faced with jail time. 

Aside from the criminal aspect, Afis devices can tell whether someone has a concealed carry license, is a foster parent or has adopted a child. 

They've also been used to identify trauma victims or even those killed in car accidents. 

In all, the device can identify around five million people nationwide. 

It costs less than $2,000 and the ones used by the Nebraska State Patrol were provided through outside sources - not the agency's state-allotted budget.

It takes the device approximately 30 seconds to scan through the databases and determine whether someone's prints are a 'hit' or not. 

Thorson says the devices have been a huge help, and are used by agencies across Nebraska - including Lincoln Police. 

As word spreads, he expects them to become even more popular.

"A year or so ago, before we had these, sometimes you're just out of luck when you try to identify someone like that," Thorson said. "So they've been a tremendous help."