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Monday, October 10, 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

Coffee Clue Leads to Arrest in Shooting   KANSAS CITY STAR, MO - Oct 6, 2005 ...fingerprint found on cup at gas station...

N.C. Firm Agrees to Pay Fine for Shipping Products to Hong Kong WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL, NC- Oct 5, 2005 ...a crime-scene products company agreed to pay a $400K fine resulting from charges that it illegally shipped products...

Start-up Getting Financing for Fingerprint Technology SILICONVALLEY.COM - Oct 4, 2005 ...$130 million financing for paying for goods and services: a machine that reads your fingerprint...

Man Against Machine   NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION, US - Sept 1, 2005 method outperforms human-designed program for fingerprint improvement...

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Updated the Detail Archives.


Last week

we introduced the concept of the use of a term other than "Major Case Prints" (MCP's)

This week

we look at the message board discussion on the topic and vote whether to leave MCPs alone, and which acronym and non-acronym term you prefer to be passed on to SWGFAST for consideration.
CLPEX discussion on the term "Major Case" prints and alternative phrases

During the week of October 3 - 10, 2005, the concept of changing from the term "Major Case Prints" (MCP's) to another term was discussed on the message board.  Almost 30 posts represented a wide range of opinion regarding 1) whether a change is necessary and 2) what the new term should be, if changed.

There were many opinions expressed "for" and "against" the change.  The bullets below were distilled from the message board posts:


* no definition of what is a "major" case
* current name creates hassles
* current term creates confusion
* illustrates our discipline isn't stagnant
* a new term would better articulate the concept
* existing term is imprecise
* existing term refers to circumstance,
    not completeness


* new term would create more confusion
* old term has been around and is used universally
* old term is understandable - it's what people know
* why re-invent the wheel?
* the issue is training, not the existing term
* changing terms would appear that we are
    ungrounded in basic foundations


This is an interesting idea - to change a term that I'm assuming the majority of those in the profession agree upon what the term means. We don't have a lot of those to begin with, and maybe this does cause confusion for those in law enforcement who aren't in the field, but why do we need to change it?

Many of the jailors I have known are so harried they look for shortcuts to finish the paperwork in the booking process, so mandating the taking of major case prints through a live-scan protocol should ensure their acquisition.

Time and time again on this and other boards I read that we need to 'better articulate' what it is that we do. What better way is there to accomplish this than by reviewing the terminology that, while we all understand it, confuses jailors, detectives, or worse yet, jurors?

I already get a dumbfounded look when I refer to a fingerprint as a friction ridge impression. I’ve learned to speak in terms that others understand, even if the term isn’t perfect. It is definitely a training issue and its something I address when I train.

What ever you name it, some one will always question it and you will have to explain it anyway. So what's the advantage [of changing it]?

I think when we start trying to create words to fit a catchy acronym we can potentially cause even greater problems - unless it's so obvious that it's a no-brainer.

Even the term "10-Print" card isn't completely accurate anymore, now that there are 20 prints on the card. This can be explained, but like most specialized fields there are terms that aren't common or obvious for those outside of the field.

I object to the words "Total" "Complete" "Full". Most Major Case Prints will still not record "ALL" the friction ridge on the hands. Those words to me are kind of like "PARTIAL LATENT". A oxymoron. If you use those words are you also going to take foot impressions.

I still feel that a greater good would be served with proper training rather than a catchy name.

Our main responsibility is to explain what we do in a forensic setting.  What difference does it make what term we use?

the field should be looking at things like terminology and CONSIDERING THE POSSIBILITY that despite the fact that WE know what different things mean, some terms may be confusing to the layperson. In reviewing our terminology we MAY be able to find better words which would potentially clarify things to others. There is nothing wrong with this type of review.

I wouldn't even mind if it were referred to as doing a "Form 345335" on a subject.

Although the FBI may not have originated the term, one of the earliest references to "Major Case Prints" I have found is from 41 years ago. On page 13 of ID News, Vol. 14, No. 11 (Nov 1964) an article by the FBI reads as follows:  "Fingerprint cards are frequently available for comparison with latent prints from the crime scene. Often impressions found at the crime scene involve areas of the palms, the lower finger joints, and the extreme finger sides and tips which are not present on the average set of fingerprints taken for routine record purposes. It becomes necessary for the investigator to take complete impressions of all of the ridges on the hands to permit complete and conclusive comparisons with all latent prints in the case. Palm prints should always include impressions of the lower finger joints as well as an extra impression of the outer edge of the palm, showing all the ridges below the little finger to the point where they merge with the smooth skin. Complete flinger tip and side impressions are prepared by first placing the fingers flat and then lifting them forward toward the nail, and repeating this procedure with both sides of the fingers. Finally an impression of the tip is made by rolling the finger from side to side. In the FBI we refer to all these Impressions as “major case prints” because we are recording every speck of detail on the subject’s hand.

It is unfortunate that a term relating to an offense category was chosen instead of a term indicative of completeness. If a new term is to be adopted, I would hope that it completely drops the word "case" and instead uses only descriptors that indicate complete record prints. Previously, MCPs (no apostrophe required or appropriate unless showing possession) never had such a formal structure as the proposed three card set:

1 - FD-249 Fingerprint Card
2 - FD-884 Palmprint Card
3 - The draft complete finger (joints and tips) and thenar card

For those interested, images of the new card (and existing finger and palm print cards) were recently posted at

Due to the discussion on the board, the voting has been broken down into two categories: Concept questions and Phrase questions.  Remember that in order to vote on the message board, you must be logged in as a board user, not a guest.  Guests can only see the poll results.  If you won't (or can't) sign in, please reply to the Detail and highlight your answers in your e-mail, and they will be included in the count for SWGFAST.


1) Do you feel it is more beneficial to change from "Major Case Prints" to another term, or to stay with the existing term "Major Case Prints"?
      ANSWER:  a)  Stay with MCPs      b) Change to another term

2) Do you feel it's important to have a term with a legitimate acronym or would you not take into account the acronym when choosing a new term?
      ANSWER:  a)  I would consider the acronym    b) I would not consider the acronym


Which of the following acronym terms do you like the best?
 Fully Acquired Comparison Standards (FACS)
b) Comprehensive Acquired Ridge Detail Standards (CARDS)
c) Total Area Print Standards (TAPS)
d) Fully Obtained Comparison Usable Standards (FOCUS)
e) Complete Rolled Impressions for Major Events (CRIME)
f) Complete Aquisition of Ten-prints Standard (CATS)
g) Complete Palmar Exemplars (COMPLEX)
h) Comprehensive Acquisition of Ridge Detail
i) Fully Acquired Comparison of Exemplars
j) Comprehensive Acquisition of Standard Exemplars

Which of the following non-acronym terms do you like the best?
Complete Friction Ridge Exemplars (CFRE's)
b) Total Friction Ridge Exemplars (TFRE's)
c) Full Case Prints (FCP's)
d) Total-Hand Friction Ridge Impressions (THFRI's)
e) Comprehensive Known Impressions (CKI's)
f) Full Set (FS)
g) Extended Palmar Impressions (EPI's)


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

Have a GREAT week!