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G o o d   M o r n i n g !
Monday, March 7, 2005

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

Expert: No Fingerprints on Gun Matched Suspect TWIN FALLS NEWS-TIMES, ID - Mar 4, 2005 testified that the gun used in the slayings had no evidence that could connect murders...

'Hands on' Machine IDs Criminals Faster HUNTSVILLE ITEM, TX - Mar 1, 2005 ...with a new fingerprinting machine, what once took weeks to read and report now takes a couple of hours...

Murder Trial Focus Shifts to Fingerprints   HAROLD & REVIEW, IL - Feb 28, 2005 ...authorities found suspect's fingerprints on a plastic bag...

Prof Scrutinizes Fingerprinting   CORNELL DAILY SUN, NY  - Feb 25, 2005  ...fingerprinting has not been put through the same process as DNA profiling to determine error rate, validity and statistics...


The Marion County Sheriff's Office (MCSO), located in Ocala, Florida, will be hosting a one-week, 40-hour course entitled "Courtroom Testimony for the Fingerprint Expert." The fee is $150.00.  For more details, contact Gary W. Jones via email, Gjones3816@aol,com  or telephone 352-307-7846. You may also contact MCSO Latent Print Examiner Rena Greenway at 352-369-6754. Course scheduled for April 18 - 22, 2005.

Thank you,
Gary Jones
Fingerprint Services 


Last week, we defined why latent print examiners may be receiving more Unsolved Latent Matches (ULM) notifications from latent prints registered in the FBI IAFIS Unsolved Latent File.  If you have any questions about this process or the reasons behind the increase, please refer to the archived version of last week's Weekly Detail on

Two weeks ago, we looked at the concept of latent print examination documentation.  Further clarification was distributed by ASCLD-LAB late last week on their requirements for this concept.  This week, we look at an introductory letter for the new clarification document.  Then we see the new clarification document in its entirety.  Then we look at three major changes between the first document (The Detail 184) and the second document.


Dear Delegates, Quality Managers, Inspectors and Applicant Laboratory Directors,

On January 14, 2005, the ASCLD/LAB Board sent out a document concerning minimum requirements concerning latent print examination documentation. As a result of valuable feedback received from numerous individuals and from SWGFAST, the Board reconsidered some aspects of the requirement. You are being provided, with this message, a revised document which addresses some of the concerns brought to our attention and hopefully clarifies some of the concerns created by the previous document. The attached document, hereby, replaces the document issued on January 14, 2005.

The requirements for latent print examination documentation as outlined in the attached document will become effective immediately and all laboratories inspected hereafter will be inspected to this standard. However, there will be a grace period, until July 1, 2005, during which a laboratory which does not meet the outlined requirements for latent print examination documentation may satisfy the requirements, when inspected, by presenting a plan for bringing the laboratory into compliance. Effective July 1, 2005, all laboratories must be in compliance with this requirements as outlined.


Ralph M. Keaton
Executive Director
(919) 773-2600




Revised 2-27-05

The following document is intended to address and clarify the extent of the examination documentation required by ASCLD/LAB for latent print examinations. ASCLD/LAB has other requirements for examination documentation which are not addressed in this document. Those requirements are still applicable.

For another competent examiner or supervisor to evaluate what was done and to interpret the data, examination documentation must include the following as part of the case record.

1) All examination activities


Another competent examiner should be able to determine from the examiner’s notations each examination activity conducted, the sequence of those activities and the results of the activities. The activities can include the development techniques applied, controls or reagent checks used in development techniques, photography/digital imaging used, any AFIS searches conducted, known exemplar capture and/or retrieval, comparisons conducted and conclusions reached.

It is not required that the examination documentation provide a detailed description of the thought process involved in the analysis, comparison or evaluation. However, examination documentation must include which prints were analyzed, compared, evaluated and conclusions reached. Examination documentation must also acknowledge the existence and disposition of any captured latent prints which are not analyzed, compared or evaluated.

When individualization is made, the original or a legible reproduction of the known exemplar must be retained as part of the case record. When the laboratory cannot ensure that the known exemplar used and relied upon for the individualization will be maintained in an individual characteristic database or similar repository, the laboratory must maintain a legible reproduction of the known exemplar in the case record.


2) Latent print lifts, photographs/digital images or legible copies of the latent prints


Images of the latent prints determined to be of value are needed for another competent examiner to evaluate what was done or interpret the data. Narrative descriptions, diagrams and drawings of latent prints alone are insufficient. Original latent prints, or legible copies must be maintained in the case record. While it is permissible to keep all prints, ASCLD/LAB does not require that original latent prints or legible copies of latent prints which have no value for comparison or which were not examined be maintained in the case record.

Digital images of latent prints electronically stored may be included as examination documentation in the case record, as defined by laboratory policy, as long as the media has the appropriate security to ensure that the images remain unchanged.


3) Annotations on original evidence, photographs/digital images or legible copies that correlate to written notes


When annotations are made on original evidence, latent print lifts or photographs/digital images of latent prints, the lifts and/or photographs/digital images with the annotations or a legible copy thereof must be retained as examination documentation. Annotations may include, but are not limited to, designations of latent prints of value, markings regarding an identification, charting, etc.

For those laboratories which maintain custody and control of latent print evidence, the laboratory may, by policy, define latent print lifts and photographs/digital images with annotations, to be both evidence and examination documentation and be included as part of the case record. For laboratories which do not maintain custody and control of annotated latent evidence, legible copies of latent prints, evidence or photographs/digital images must be included as part of the case record.

When laboratory policy and procedure allows latent print evidence to also serve as examination documentation, the laboratory must handle the latent prints in a manner that ASCLD/LAB’s requirements for evidence are met.



1) "Individualization" instead of "examination" documentation

Old wording:

"If known exemplars are used in the examination,..."

New wording:

"When individualization is made,..."

ASCLD-LAB has clarified that instead of requiring examination documentation on all conclusions reached as a result of an examination (individualization, exclusion, and inconclusive), that only individualization conclusions require examination documentation.

Taken in context with the rest of the paragraph in the original document, many agencies and examiners felt that the wording required all images, including repository known prints examined on AFIS terminals, to be retained by the agency, even if no identification was made on screen. ASCLD-LAB is clearly stating this was not their original intent, but rather only to document an examination if an individualization occurs, and the examiner or agency is not sure the images will be retained by the system and available at a later time.

Furthermore, the level of documentation for an individualization has been relaxed:

2) "Legible" instead of "comparison quality" latent print images

Old wording:

"...the original or reproduction suitable for comparison of the known exemplar must be retained as part of the case record."

New wording:

"...the original or a legible reproduction of the known exemplar must be retained as part of the case record."

Comparison quality images would consist of 1000 ppi scans, examination-quality photographs, high quality photocopies in some cases.

Legible reproductions could consist of photocopies, low-resolution scans or digital photographs, close-up (but not necessarily examination quality) photographs, etc.

Clearly, ASCLD-LAB has clarified that instead of retaining comparison quality images for latent print documentation, an accredited laboratory must simply make a copy or low-resolution scan such that the images and associated background are "legible". This clarification indicates that documentation is not necessarily required that allows the opportunity for another competent examiner to reproduce the conclusion. (although it could be) Instead, ASCLD-LAB indicates that documentation is required that provides a legible reproduction of the impression on the item. In other words, a "legible reproduction" of the exemplar is sufficient "to evaluate what was done or interpret the data."

3) Documentation of "Annotated latent evidence"

New wording:

"For laboratories which do not maintain custody and control of annotated latent evidence, legible copies of latent prints, evidence or photographs/digital images must be included as part of the case record."

This was further clarified from the original document, which did not spell out this requirement in this much detail. Basically, if you make an individualization and annotate the latent print, legible reproductions of the print and annotation(s) must be made for documentation purposes if the evidence doesn't remain in the control and custody of your agency. Furthermore, the appearance of the phrase "annotated latent evidence" seems to indicate that it was not the intent of ASCLD-LAB to require reproduction of routine annotations, such as the case number, date, etc. that may be written on every latent lift or item of evidence in a case.

What seems to be the common theme in the new clarification document is that annotations and latent impressions indicate what was done or can assist a reviewer in interpreting the data, so ASCLD-LAB accredited agencies which do not retain the evidence must make legible reproductions of this information to document the examination.


Remember, the message board is always open: (  For more formal latent print discussions, visit (



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Have a GREAT week!