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Monday, May 19, 2003

BREAKING NEWz you can UzE...
compiled by Jon Stimac

Man Bites Off Own Fingertips To Avoid Police ID - KYW-TV, PA - May 16, 2003 ...after he was arrested, the defendant was apparently very intent on hiding his own identity...

Fingerprint Security Coming 'Soon' - THE AUSTRALIAN, AU - May 15, 2003 ...the system will analyze the finger, compare it against the information and open web based applications, your network or any other professional access you need...

Fingerprints Would be Used to Buy Meals - THE BEACON JOURNAL, OH - May 14, 2003 ...school leaders are considering a new $700,000 system that identifies students using their digital fingerprints...

Grand Jury Cites Crime Lab Delays - THE MERCURY NEWS, CA - May 14, 2003 ...the San Mateo County crime lab has just moved into a brand-new, multimillion-dollar building, but inadequate staffing and poor management are causing serious delays...

Good morning via the "Detail," a weekly e-mail newsletter that greets latent print examiners around the globe every Monday morning. The purpose of the Detail is to help keep you informed of the current state of affairs in the latent print community, to provide an avenue to circulate original fingerprint-related articles, and to announce important events as they happen in our field.


Last week we explored the concept of sufficiency for identification, and the area of friction ridge skin that does not reproduce.  Dave Grieve posted some further comment on the message board, and I felt it was well worth while to pass it on:

One of the validations of a science is the ability to use the methodology to predict. Unless one forgets to convert English to metric (or the reverse), gravitational attraction is a predictable force vector and permits space flight. So, too, is the science of fingerprints able to predict what is beyond the area of any given impression once the source of origin is determined. Since biological uniqueness of individual friction ridge skin is a predictable event, what lies beyond the impression is known. 

Bob Olsen was once pressed on this subject with repeated questions of how he knew a discrepancy might not be present outside the area of a latent he had individualized. He responded that since he knew the source, he knew what was beyond his field of view. The attorney then asked upon what basis he knew what he could not see. Bob pulled a pen from his pocket and said, I may not know to your satisfaction what direction this pen will go, but I am absolutely convinced it will not fall up.


I recently received a question from a Detail subscriber:

I have an interesting question to ask you and others out there in our field. Suppose you get an AFIS hit on someone, like for an old homocide and find out later that the persons fingerprints should of been sealed or expunged from the file, do you drop the whole thing or what would you do?? Legally where are you bound??

The discussion board might be a good forum for the question. 


This week, there has been some excellent discussion on the board, which has taken the subject of 'sufficiency' in a little different direction.  I wanted to share some of the discussion and perhaps generate a little thought on this new direction.

A question arose from a discussion of ability playing a part of sufficiency of information for individualization.  Let's say you are the senior examiner at your department, and for discussion let's say your ability level, (which includes training, experience, motivation, talent, etc.) is higher than anyone in your department.  You know this when one day you identify a print that is just barely within your comfort zone.  Perhaps it is a small area with high clarity, or perhaps it is a large area with lots of distortion.  Regardless, you feel that the other examiners would not feel comfortable individualizing the print.  You have given them prints before to verify that were easier than this, and they struggled with them.

What would you do?

1) give it to one of them anyway
2) not call it 'suitable' for comparison purposes
3) go outside your agency

Some of you may be thinking the scenario above is not quite so black and white.  In fact, a pre-publication reviewer of my thoughts above pointed out that ability levels are not necessarily static.  Further, each comparison is different and contains a different set of circumstances, so it would be impossible to say whether one difficult comparison would be more or less comfortable for another examiner.  But continuing with the example, let's say that from the above, you choose option 1 first.   Common sense would dictate it would be improper to follow that with option 2.  In fact, some would argue that option 2 shouldn't really even be an option if you know it is a match.  Of course, you could follow option 1 with option 3 if the examiner(s) from your agency did not feel comfortable verifying the ident... in other words, if they saw agreement, but did not see enough agreement to individualize.

And in our messages on the CLPEX discussion board, that brought up the concept of "shopping for another opinion".  How far do you go?

You know it is a match.  There is no doubt in your mind it is a match.  But nobody at your agency is willing to verify the print.  What is your agency policy?  What is your supervisor's attitude toward this concept?  Could you call the state lab?  Or if you are a state examiner, could you send photo's to the FBI or another state lab, or a consultant in the private sector?  How far do you go?  Could you report out "no ident" knowing you followed ACE and arrived at "ident"?  

We could 'up the stakes' a bit and say it is the only print in the case, and a suspect identification that makes the case for the DA.  I know... you are unbiased and don't care about the other stuff, but let's just say you know this to be true.  Would that affect your answer?  From the message board, here is a portion of one of the posts:

"I once had to shop long and hard for another opinion on a very poor latent, which had quality, but lacked in quantity. This was before Ridgeology was a common term in our vocabulary. I resisted the pressure from other more experienced examiners to let it go as being a print that could not be individualized or excluded. I persisted and eventually found support at the FBI Lab in DC. It ended up identifying a suspect in a very big auto theft case, where the only latent that had ever been recovered on the stolen vehicles was a small latent on the seat belt buckle."

What are your thoughts?

Perhaps instead of going outside the agency and identifying the print, the report could be written in such a way to reflect that the impression is not identifiable right now. (insinuating that perhaps it could be identifiable at a later date?)

Again, what are your thoughts?  Do you feel this is possible?

Dwane Hilderbrand wanted me to throw out some report phrases that are being explored in his department.  He is interested in feedback regarding the following phrases, per his following request to be circulated in the Detail:

"Greetings and good morning to you. I am looking for feedback from other latent print examiners around the country on latent print conclusion reports. We here at Scottsdale have come under fire between the ranks of examiners and supervisors. I do not feel the conclusions we are being forced to use are useful conclusions. I am seeking your input and arguments. Please help me if you feel it necessary. We have been told this comes from
ASCLD[-LAB] which is something I do not believe is happening.  I have some real heartburn over some of these conclusions. 

Please see the [phrases below]."

1. _____ Comparison results are negative. 

1a. _____ Latent impressions developed and recovered were compared to the known inked impressions of the above listed individual with no identifications being made.

2. _____ Fingerprints/Major case prints on ___________________________ were attached and returned to the requestor.

3. _____ This DR number contains no identifiable latent impressions at this time.

4. _____ Major case prints are needed on _________________________ to complete this comparison.

5. _____ Need better quality inked impressions and/or major case prints on ________________________ to complete this comparison.

6. _____ No latent impressions could be located under this DR#.

7. _____ No inked impressions could be located for _______________________________.

8. _____ Latent impressions under this DR lack sufficient ridge detail for comparison purposes at this time.

9. _____ Item(s) #_________________________ was/were processed/examined for latent impressions with positive results.

10. _____ Item(s) #_________________________ was/were processed/examined for latent impressions with negative results.

11. _____ Item(s) #_________________________ was/were processed for latent impressions with positive results; however, the latent impressions developed and recovered lack sufficient ridge detail for comparison purposes at this time.

12. _____ Latent impressions developed and recovered by CSS _______________ were compared to the known inked impressions of the above listed individual(s). _______ latent impression has been positively identified as having been made by the ________________________________ of ____________________________________.

Card #_____ (________________________________________________________)
Card #_____ (________________________________________________________)


DR#_____________ OFFENSE______________________
DATE____________ BY____________________________

Latent impressions developed and recovered by CSS _______________ were compared to the known inked impressions of _____________________________, DOB________(SCN) or (SID) #___________________. _____ latent impression(s) has (have) been positively identified as having been made by the _____________ of ___________________________.

Card #______ (________________________________________________________________)

Responses may be e-mailed to Dwane or posted on the CLPEX
message board off the homepage of the website, or at (http://www.clpex.com/phpBB/viewforum.php?f=2)

And as usual, the onin.com forum (http://onin.com/fp/wwwbd/) is also available for more formal latent print-related discussions.

For discussions with an international flair, check out Dave Charlton's forum at: http://charlton97.proboards12.com/index.cgi



"More accurate than fingerprints and other biometric markers, iris scanning is considered a nearly foolproof way of identifying people."

Thanks, Amanda Taylor for this week's Funny Fingerprint Find!


UPDATES on CLPEX.com this week...

Updated the Detail Archives

Updated the Newzroom

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Until next Monday morning, don't work too hard or too little.

Have a GREAT week!