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G o o d   M o r n i n g !
Monday, July 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

Deputies Faulted for Failing to Use Identity Process   GRAND RAPIDS PRESS, MI  - July 16, 2004 ...mistaken identity is not unusual when police first arrive at accident scenes, but most agencies follow steps to quickly clear up the confusion...

Forensics Expert Links Werner to Murder Scene   LEADER TIMES, PA - July 15, 2004 accused of stabbing his wife left bloody fingerprints on the duct tape wrapped around her ankles...

Fingerprint Decision Put Off TACOMA NEWS TRIBUNE, WA  - July 14, 2004 council put off a vote on a proposal to allow the City Police to stop using a fingerprint database system developed by a local company...

Want a Life of Crime? Wait Till You're Old ARIZONA REPUBLIC, AZ  - July 13, 2004 ...National Biometric Test Center at San Jose University that said about one out of every 50 people has fingerprints that don't "work," for one reason or another....

Check out
14 new smileys!! on the SmileyFiles page.

Only two weeks this year
of Ridgeology Science Workshop:

November 15-19, 2004
Arlington, TX

(888) 235-1230
(520) 514-8822
Registration forms available online at

Please fax registration to:
(520) 514-7766

January 31 - February 4
(dates updated on 7/21)
West Palm Beach, Florida

(888) 235-1230
(520) 514-8822
Registration forms available online at

Both are expected to fill quickly, so se sure to sign up asap.

Last week

Lisa Steele brought us an article recently published in the Criminal Law Bulletin that outlined "The Defense Challenge to Fingerprints.

This week begins accepting the first examples of some of the "best non-matches" or "Close Calls" that do not match.  The coordinator of this page is hereby deemed "Captain Close" aka "Pretty Darn" and wishes to remain anonymous.  He can be reached at  Before we start discussing the concept of prints that are "pretty darn close" I wanted to explain the purpose for the new page in a little more detail.

The purpose of this page is NOT to provide guidance or training for new fingerprint examiners.  In fact, discussions with several people over the last few months revealed hesitancy to even post these types of images on the internet for many reasons.  However, when the good of having these images available for trainers is considered, there seems to be much more support for the page.  Several close friends have stated that this page will be a valuable resource because the more we study close non-matches, the better position we will be in when articulating how we know a "tough" identification when we see one.

Therefore, the purpose of the Close Calls page is to provide fingerprint trainers with examples of some of the closer non-matches that have been found so that these images can be used correctly and explained in a classroom environment to teach fingerprint-related concepts.  If you are a trainer or know a fingerprint trainer, this resource is intended for that purpose.

The "Close Calls" page contributes to the idea that fingerprints are completely unique and therefore are a valid and reliable means of identification.  Even these "best case" prints show multitudes of detail that are totally and completely out of tolerance for the level of clarity seen in the images.  We know this!  There is no need to spend time writing a note to Captain Close or myself expressing disdain that a particular submission isn't even "close".  If someone thinks it is close enough to send in to this page, apparently for some it is "close".  Therefore, we proceed with posting on the Close Calls page knowing that we are further confirming the principles that we know to be true and that form the foundation of our science... that friction ridge skin is unique and permanent. 

The link to the new "Close Calls" page is under the "Site Features" section of the

We encourage you to submit your Close Calls for the benefit of fingerprint trainers everywhere.  If you have an example, please visit the "format your submission" page for recommended steps to get the right combination of resolution and file size.  Then just e-mail your image(s) to Captain Close and we'll handle the rest!

This week we also review an article submitted to addressing last week's Defense Challenge to Fingerprints.  I also posted this entire 26 page article in the Reference section under "Scientific Issues", and offer a review of the article as this week's Detail.

Article Review:

Scientific Principles of Friction Ridge Analysis, by Tom Ferriola

This article serves as an excellent summary of the methodology and philosophy of friction ridge identification.  The article was written to address the identification of latent print impressions an applied science involving Ridgeology as an umbrella covering the disciplines and topics upon which we practice that applied science.

The article begins by acknowledging the reason behind permanence being friction ridge skin structure and uniqueness being friction ridge formation.  Fingerprint identification is then described as being a reliable applied or forensic science as opposed to "pure" science.

The author describes that Ridgeology isn't just the use of edges and pores in comparison... rather it is a holistic approach that recognizes that all features weigh differently on the "scale" of identification and that training affects the scale in a significant way.

Statistical models are mentioned and historical figures are discussed at length.  A short discussion on the William West case leads into another discussion on uniqueness.  Distortion and clarity are tied to the reasons behind a non-numeric standard and the methodology of using that standard is discussed in length, including a detailed definition of the three levels of detail.  ACE-V is discussed in practical terms and the concept of targeting is included in this discussion. 

Legal issues are then discussed with emphasis placed on the fact that fingerprint identification is one of the only disciplines that does not offer a means to express possible identifications.  The Mitchell case is highlighted with an emphasis on Daubert Concepts.  A complete list of legal and reference citations are listed to conclude this paper.

Over-all, this is an excellent review of the scientific principles of friction ridge identification, and a recommended read for all latent print examiners.


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More formal latent print discussions are available at (


"The test uses mass spectrometry -- the same technique relied upon by crime labs to identify fingerprints"

reported WCVB-TV in Boston.


A Misstep That Every Leader Must Avoid

An important goal is to be the kind of leader who reinforces the right behaviors in his (/her) people.  Do this well, and your employees will perform above your expectations because they want to.

You can limit, even cut off, this enthusiasm by communicating one crucial communications misstep: Making liberal use of "Great, but..." statements.  Consider these examples:

1) "You did a great job organizing the celebration with our key customers, but I had really expected more of them to attend."

2) "Your department's performance during the first two quarters was on target and on budget, but I'm not sure we'll be able to keep it up."

Some managers use "great, but..." statements because they don't want to misrepresent a situation.  Others don't want to leave their people thinking that everything is all right.  No matter the reason, these statements demoralize staffers.

You can get around a "great, but..." statement by separating your feedback with time.  If that's not possible, then separate your statements .  Notice how the same examples, slightly reworded, remain spurs to achievement:

1) You did a great job organizing the celebration with our key customers.  I was pleased with the way it turned out.  Did you expect more attendees?"

2) Your department's performance was great.  The next two quarters are going to be rough.  Everyone's maximum efforts will be needed to hit our numbers.  How are you all feeling about it?

It takes thought and practice to remove those "...buts" from your statements.  Do it.  The effort pays enormous dividends in morale.

-Adapted from "Unlock Behavior, Unleash Profits, by Leslie W. Braksick, via Leadership Strategies, Premiere Issue, 2004, 800.722.9221,


Added the Close Calls page

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!