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G o o d   M o r n i n g !
Monday, January 19, 2004

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.

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

Man Once in Texas Prison Pleads Guilty to '82 Murder - RALEIGH NEWS, NC - Jan. 16, 2004. ...A man who admitted while in a Texas prison to killing a farmer has been sentenced to 40 more years in prison...

Bus Crash: Fingerprints Apology - THE BBC NEWS, UK - Jan. 16, 2004 ...A policeman has apologized to an inquest after it was revealed that fingerprints had not been analyzed...

Man Mistakenly a Murder Suspect - CORPUS CHRISTI CALLER TIMES, TX - Jan. 16, 2004 ...fingerprints confirm that an illegal immigrant was masquerading under the suspect's name...

Robber Left Fingerprint On Note - INDYCHANNEL.COM, IN - Jan. 13, 2004 ...after months of database searching, police say they have linked a fingerprint to a suspect in a July robbery...


The Georgia Division of the IAI would like me to announce their upcoming (next month) Ridgeology course taught by David Ashbaugh.  They have only 6 slots left and would like to fill them if at all possible.  More information is available at


I need your help!  Over the last year, I have spoken with several examiners who have HUGE smiley files!  I have been thinking for a while about creating a "Smiley Archives" page on CLPEX where you can upload your favorite smiley-face fingerprints to the website itself, and also save a smiley or two back to your computer for a presentation, wallpaper, etc.  Let me know your thoughts on the message board... How many prints would you scan and submit?  Do you like the idea?  I also need to speak with someone who knows of a CGI script or some other interface to make this work.  Ideally, the script could deal with images of any size, resolution and common image format, re-size them to a given dimension and resolution, and display the converted image with the contributor name and agency in very small font below.  Automatic re-sizing as opposed to simple thumbnail display would be ideal because it could save hundreds of megabytes of website storage space over time (for those who upload 1X1 inch 1200ppi files!!).  Another option would be to have a "Smiley Coordinator" who solicits and accepts submissions of any format, size and resolution, re-sizes them for the Smiley Archives, and posts or has me post to the site.  I have several leads that might provide a few hundred submissions within a matter of months.  If anyone knows of additional Smiley Files in existence, please send me a brief note.  If you are interested in the very cool and slightly technical position of "Smiley Coordinator" with the website, let me know!... I'll set you up a page that may make history as the largest smiley collection in the world!


IAI Monthly Update (January)

by Joe Polski

It’s hard to believe that another year has come and gone.  We’ve had another successful year for the association and I’m happy to report, for the sixth year in a row, that membership stands at another all time high.  As of December 31, 2003, we have 5,693 members.  Thanks to each and every one of you for your support of the association during the past year and we look for big things during 2004.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Grant Applications

The DHS offers many, many grant programs to first responders and others who might be involved with homeland security threats.  If you are not already familiar with it, you might want to check the following website for useful information about grants.  This is the DHS link to grants but has  links to other useful sites as well. (

Crime Scene Certification Announcement

The November/December JFI contained an erroneous announcement that the Crime Scene Certification test and study materials would change after January 1, 2004.  That is not correct and that change will not happen.  The Crime Scene Certification Board is working on a new test for all levels of certification but that won’t be completed until sometime after the 2004 Conference.  At that time it is likely the study materials will also change but that change did not happen on January 1, 2004. 

Division editors, please include this notice in your newsletters if you have space.

Thanks for your assistance.

FBI Latent Fingerprint Capabilities

The FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division publishes a semi-annual newsletter containing information of interest about their division.  The following is an excerpt from an article by CJIS Director Michael Kirkpatrick that was published in the fall, 2003 CJIS Link newsletter:

“Law enforcement must become more accustomed to using these modern technologies [IAFIS & other AFIS systems].  Without a doubt, the most underused service of the CJIS Division is the remote latent search capability.  State and federal agencies have been able to initiate latent searches of the IAFIS through the CJIS Wide Area Network since November, 1999.  During that time, we have also encouraged local law enforcement to use the service, with the concurrence of the appropriate state official, by providing free remote latent software to agencies interested in processing latent prints directly through the IAFIS.  In addition, this newsletter has carried numerous articles describing the IAFIS’ latent capability, as well as stories of crimes solved using this terrific new tool.  Yet, on average, we are processing about 110 latent prints each day; we could easily be running 1,000 (emphasis added is mine)”.  And continues, “As more law enforcement investigators process latent prints through the national database, I’m convinced there will be a corresponding increase in the number of criminals we put behind bars”.

I would encourage those fingerprint examiners and departments who have not taken full advantage of the remote access capabilities of IAFIS to look into obtaining that equipment.  It wasn’t too many years ago that the FBI was rationing latent searches due to what was believed to be a huge amount latent searches.  Technology has now provided the capacity to handle a much larger number. 

FBI Laboratory Manual

The FBI’s  Handbook of Forensic Services (2003) has been revised. 

The purpose of the Handbook is to provide guidance and procedures for safe and efficient methods of collecting, preserving, packaging, and shipping evidence and to describe the forensic examinations performed by the FBI's Laboratory Division and Investigative Technology Division.

You may view the revised Handbook at


Last week we looked at a study that makes a link between propensity for heart disease and higher percentages of whorl patterns.  This week, we look at a post to the public ONIN message board and the webmasters reply regarding the future of AFIS and processing.


When Will Automation Replace Manual Fingerprinting Methods?

By Lynn Henry on Sunday, January 18, 2004 - 04:28 pm:

How long do you think before manual finger printing becomes obsolete in favor of laser, or other techniques?

By Webservant on Sunday, January 18, 2004 - 05:19 pm:

Your question could be interpreted as asking about the following:

Automated comparison and identification versus human expert decisions;


Electronic detection techniques versus dusting with powder and similar non-electronic methods;

Regarding automated comparison and identification - the answer is never and the answer is also maybe soon (for some prints).

Humans will never be completely replaced because the quantity and quality of ridge detail information always varies between two impressions being compared. Existing computer automation can make some no-human-involved (called lights-out) reliable identifications when both the questioned and the known comparisons involves multiple adjacent (known position) fingerprints and when both the questioned and known impressions meet a minimum level of ridge detail quality to permit automated feature detection, extraction and comparison.

Before reliable automated decisions involving one fingerprint against one fingerprint can begin, advancements in ridge feature detection and extraction need to be commercially introduced. After that, government agencies will begin to migrate to such technology as their existing systems require upgrading. Such systems will need to incorporate the same types of Level 3 detail used by fingerprint experts to make identification decisions. Such research has been ongoing for years (by Lockheed Martin, NSA and other entities). The image resolution required for Level 3 detail is greater than the current 500 pixel per inch (ppi) live scan images captured by most systems (although a few can already capture at 1000 ppi). Such systems will probably operate by comparing only a relatively small area of the center of the ridge detail present in the right index finger.

Regarding electronic detection techniques - the answer is never.

Every year there are improvements in technology and in user friendly equipment to apply that technology at crime scenes and in the laboratory. However, the infinite variables involved in what may compose latent print residue (what was stuck to the finger and deposited when that finger touched a surface), and the infinite variables insofar as the nature of the surface touched, mean that no recipe book or computer program can cover all possibilities. Each situation must be approached by the human expert trying to make best guesses about what is best for the situation.

It is possible (though not necessarily practical) to develop a start-to-finish specialized device that would, for example, process checks somewhat like a film processing machine at a one-hour photo shop. The device could image the checks, then apply various chemical and development procedures in sequence, and spit out the processed checks at the other end. The result could produce high-resolution images captured using various lighting and filtration, at various stages of the process. Such a device could be useful for large-scale operations where thousands of checks are routinely processed and where it is okay for the machine to ignore the potential that some fingerprints will have been deposited in contaminants that could be better developed using other techniques.


Further thoughts:

I was also considering a similar apparatus for processing non-porous evidence; a series of dishwasher-looking appliances that performed CA Fuming followed by dye-staining.  Technicians could capture high-resolution and high-bit depth digital images of ridge detail on the processed evidence.  These images (and ones from the above porous processing device) could automatically be uploaded via encrypted broadband file transfer to a server/job queue with a complete image chain of custody. 

Of course, the server could be in the same room or agency, or it could be across the country.  The case images (which could also include captures of known print images) could then be examined by any examiner with access to the server at any time of the night or day, and a report could be generated back to the original submitting agency or officer, along with the image containing a further-completed chain of custody and reports detailing what was found.  For the national approach, new partnerships between AFIS, comparison software, integrated database systems, and capture technologies may make this emerging field of tele-forensics a reality before you know it!

With regards to AFIS, eventually we will probably have search capability of the city where the crime occurred, followed by the county, surrounding radius, then the state, the surrounding states, and finally a national search.  With level 3 AFIS, examiners are going to need specialized imaging software to view all detail available to make identifications.  If we haven't seen it already, it won't be long before AFIS returns "hits" that some examiners may be uncomfortable identifying.  This scenario further drives home the need for the tele-forensic model, so that examiner can simply push a "service" button when viewing a pair of images.  One scenario could achieve independent verification from multiple external certified latent print examiners within a matter of a day, or even hours.  This is an area that I feel will evolve quickly.

The future of our discipline is certainly exciting to think about.  It is great to be alive during this incredible time of change at a rate that seems faster than ever before.  Why don't we do a Detail containing YOUR thoughts on the future of our discipline?  Submit your ideas to and I'll compile them into a Detail for next week.  It doesn't have to be long... just a paragraph or two.  You can expand on a thought above, or you can bring up something totally different.  Include your name and agency, or "anonymous" if you don't wish your information to be included in the Detail and on the website next week.

If you are someone who does not feel the discipline should undergo changes in these areas, submit a few paragraphs with your thoughts.  I would like to include the feedback of everyone who has specific ideas in the Detail next week.

Read on...
I thought I would pick a Management Circle that complimented this week's Detail subject matter...


To discuss this Weekly Detail, log on to the message board: (

More formal latent print discussions are available at (



Are you getting the best ideas?

New insights and fresh thinking can mean better performance and improved morale.  If you find that you're not harvesting as many ideas as you should from your staff, take these steps:

1) Give credit.  Even if the original idea has been completely reshaped, give the person credit for getting the ball rolling

2) Explain vetos.  When you don't adopt an idea, take time to explain why.  The effort will gain you goodwill.  And your discussion may spur the employee to come up with a better approach.

3) Turn down clinkers painlessly.  If an idea is unrealistic, take special caution and tact in turning it down.  If you're diplomatic in your rejection, the employee will keep trying to come up with new ideas.  Next time, the person may hand you a winner!

4) Keep ideas on file.  Today's unusable design could turn out to be a great idea in the future.  So review old ideas to see if new conditions - perhaps an upswing in the economy - make a concept worth reviving.

-From the editors, Communication Briefings, November 2003,



Updated the Bookstore with sold items; I will be adding a few new items this week for posting next Monday.

Updated the

Updated the
Detail Archives


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

Have a GREAT week!