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Monday, August 25, 2003

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

Sheriff to Change Arrest Procedures Following Mistaken Jailing - NEWS-PRESS, FL  - Aug. 22, 2003 ...County deputies failed to verify arrestees fingerprints until the request came from an investigator with the local public defenderís office...

Experts: Fingerprints Not Enough To ID Arson Suspect - POTTSTOWN MERCURY, PA  - Aug. 20, 2003 ...fingerprints found on gas canisters and cans of food at the crime scene were not complete enough to point investigators toward a suspect in the crime...

'CSI' Sparks Students' Interest Beyond TV Show - NEWS-JOURNAL, DE - Aug. 19, 2003 ...considering a career in the forensic sciences? Start getting in line to get your degree...

Rules to Ease For Teacher Fingerprinting - ARIZONA DAILY SUN - Aug. 18, 2003 ...currently, teachers need to obtain a fingerprint clearance card, which checks an applicant's background for criminal activity before being certified...

Serraís sister pitches forensic science to Congress  MIDDLETOWN PRESS - Aug. 1, 2003
...The federal government should not overemphasize funding for DNA testing at the expense of less glamorous, but equally important forms of forensic science...


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.


I was once again reminded by a recent message board post about what a terrific resource the Chesapeake Bay IAI "Reagents" page is.  If you have never checked out this page, take a moment and click on this link.  No, they are not paying me for this... there is nothing in it for me... and nobody told me to announce it this way.  It is simply an awesome free resource.  In fact, I believe it is so great that it deserves it's own link from my home page.  It is now under the "Information" section on the left bar of the CLPEX.com home page.  Thank you to the Chesapeake Bay IAI for their continued dedication toward the website and providing online information.


Christie Wallace asks for your help in completing a survey on 1,2-indanedione:

Firstly I would like to introduce myself to you. My name is Christie Wallace. I graduated from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) Australia in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science, first class honours in Chemistry and Forensic Science.

My current position is with the New South Wales Police as a Scene of Crime Officer (SOCO) attending volume crime scenes.

In 2002 I began a PhD projects at UTS under the supervision of A/Prof Claude Roux and Dr Chris Lennard (Australian Federal Police), investigating the applications of the fingerprint reagent 1,2-Indanedione. It is with this research that I seek your assistance.  Below, Kasey has linked to a short survey based on the research and crime scene treatment of fingerprints on porous surfaces in your laboratory.

The purpose of this survey is two fold. It is to obtain up to date information on the type and proportion of chemical reagents used to treat latent fingerprints around the world. Although this information has been collated nationally in independent countries over the years, it has never been collated internationally.

Much research has been performed into the fingerprint reagent 1,2-Indanedione, however it seems that all of this research has come from only a few groups around the world. Thus this survey also seeks to determine the awareness of the international community of the fingerprint reagent 1,2-Indanedione. This includes determining if any unpublished research has been performed as well as what proportion of the community of fingerprint labs use the reagent.

It is anticipated that the results will be published in a scientific journal. I will ensure that all who respond will be notified of the publication (journal and date) or will be sent the results in electronic form.

If either yourself or a senior staff member could complete the survey and return it either to the address below or by email, also listed below, by the 12th September 2003, it would be much appreciated.

Thank you for your time and assistance


Christie Wallace
Postgraduate Student
Centre for Forensic Science, Faculty of Science
University of Technology, Sydney
PO Box 123, Broadway, 2007
NSW, Australia
Phone: +61 2 9514 1983 Fax: +61 2 9514 1460


Last week, Jim McNutt brought us "You Might Be A Latent Print Examiner... IF"  This article received so much positive acclaim that I have decided to link directly to it from the home page of the website.  If you would like to keep this list growing, feel free to post additional phrases on the board or e-mail me directly.

This week, Carl Bessman tells us of a recent rash of bad checks in Iowa... with a sticky twist:


The Use of Foreign Substances to Obscure Inked Fingerprints

As a result of a recent chat board post, I would like to share our experiences with glue-obscured, inked fingerprints in the Latent Print section of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Criminalistics Laboratory.

Beginning in 1999 and continuing into 2002 we had a rash of bad check cases at the riverboat casinos in Council Bluffs and Sioux City, Iowa. In an effort to reduce the number of fraudulent checks being cashed, the gaming establishments had set a policy of requiring an inked fingerprint to be placed on every check accepted. A similar policy at some of the grocery and convenience stores along our southern border had reduced the number of bad checks the retailers were cashing.

The checks from the riverboats had inked fingerprints with the cores smeared or obscured. Keeping in mind that the cashiers are not as well-trained and/or highly-motivated as our jailers, it was not uncommon to get over-inked or badly smeared fingerprints on the checks. However, these fingerprints were not over-inked and did not appear distorted except in the area of the core.

(Fig. 1)

Further investigation by our gaming enforcement officers (GEOís) and communication with other law enforcement agencies in Kansas City, Missouri, and Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska, led to a list of subjects who were ultimately identified and apprehended. Many of the identifications were made using the inked plain impressions, either from the top of the core to the tip of the finger, or the area around the crease between the distal and medial phalanges. Additional identifications were made by developing un-obscured latent prints on the checks with DFO and ninhydrin.

During this same time frame, a bank robber was apprehended in Ames, Iowa, following his fourth robbery in that city. Detective Dave Konopa of the Ames Police Department told me that they found several small, model-type paintbrushes on the ground near the driverís door of the subjectís pick-up. When the truck was searched they found a bottle of white Elmerís glue in the console and an open package of brushes with a single brush left in it, as well as a cap and sunglasses that were worn during some of the robberies. At booking the subjectís fingers were noted to have dried glue peeling from them. This subject eventually plead guilty to 10 or 12 bank robberies across the state.

In response to our experience my colleague, Gene Czarnecki, prepared a memo to be distributed to law enforcement agencies and affected business establishments. The main points we were attempting to communicate were;

#1) the inked fingerprint should be placed on the check in a location that was not likely to be written or stamped over, such as the bottom center of the front or in the endorsement box on the back,

#2) the finger should be placed flat against the check, and not to just allow the tip of the finger to be dabbed against the check,

#3) if the fingerprint had blank spaces or voids in it, the check should not be cashed, or at least an inked impression of a different finger should be taken, and,

#4) checking the businessís video camera and treating the checks with DFO and ninhydrin developed suspects from outside the local vicinity, especially when the checks had been cashed at gaming establishments.

These types of cases still occur sporadically. With education and diligence they can be solved and the perpetrators dealt with. Clear nail polish, Elmerís glue and the various types of super-glue seem to be the adhesives of choice, although I recently saw a television commercial for a new clear liquid bandage material that raises a new concern.

Please feel free to contact me if I can be of any further assistance.

Carl Bessman, Criminalist
Iowa DCI Criminalistics Laboratory
Des Moines, IA 50319


To discuss this week's Detail, log on to the CLPEX.com
message board and share your thoughts: (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



"An Automated Fingerprint Identification System, better known as AFIS, was launched in Gauteng on Tuesday with the opening up of a computerised check designed to cut down the two-month wait for manual matches to between three and five days, with an accuracy rating of 99 percent - far higher than human efforts."

Gill Gifford
The Star Newspaper (?)


UPDATES on CLPEX.com this week...

Updated the home page to include the CBDIAI Reagents page

Feel free to pass The Detail along to other examiners.  This is a free newsletter FOR latent print examiners, BY latent print examiners. There are no copyrights on The Detail, and the website is open for all to visit.

If you have not yet signed up to receive the Weekly Detail in YOUR e-mail inbox, go ahead and join the list now so you don't miss out!  (To join this free e-mail newsletter, send a blank e-mail to: theweeklydetail-subscribe@topica.email-publisher.com )  Members may unsubscribe at any time.  If you have difficulties with the sign-up process or have been inadvertently removed from the list, e-mail me personally at kaseywertheim@aol.com and I will try to work things out.

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

Have a GREAT week!