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G o o d   M o r n i n g !
Monday, December 12, 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

University Engineer Outwits High-Tech Fingerprint Fraud   NEWSWISE  - Dec 9, 2005 ...simple casts made from a mold can be used to fool most fingerprint recognition devices...

Automated Fingerprinting System to Arrive This Month JAMAICAN OBSERVER - Dec 9, 2005 ...system will help track down and prosecute criminal offenders...

State Criminal Records Improved MINING JOURNAL, MI - Dec 8, 2005 ...Michigan gets new system that will allow more complete searches of computer records...

Real Life CSI for Technicians   GILROY DISPATCH, CA - Dec 5, 2005 ...the yellow tape is up. Everything inside the barrier is evidence and needs to be evaluated...

Recent CLPEX Posting Activity
Last Week's Board topics containing new posts
Moderated by Steve Everist

Ninhydrin Formulae
Shaheen 148 Sun Dec 11, 2005 9:13 am

A personal view of Mr. Cole's letter.
Paul R Bivens 119 Sat Dec 10, 2005 12:59 pm

development of latent marks on thermal receipts
flo78 95 Fri Dec 09, 2005 8:46 pm

Friction Ridge Skin Morphology
Boyd 175 Fri Dec 09, 2005 2:42 am

[ Poll ] (Webmaster) - Recent Board Spam
clpexco 506 Wed Dec 07, 2005 11:14 pm

LP Examiners role in proving prior convictions in court...
Carl Speckels 263 Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:09 pm

Latent prints and bombs
Kathy Saviers 326 Wed Dec 07, 2005 4:27 pm

Old Fashion
W. Curtis 196 Mon Dec 05, 2005 10:00 pm

Trace metal detection test
RAE 254 Mon Dec 05, 2005 7:20 pm

Fingerprint Dogma Final Exam
Dogma (formerly Guest) 4740 Mon Dec 05, 2005 5:46 pm

FDIAI Presentation
Michele Triplett 153 Mon Dec 05, 2005 2:18 pm

Fingerprint Official Admits Expert Dispute
Michele Triplett 191 Mon Dec 05, 2005 2:09 pm


Moved the message board format to require login to post because too many board spam bots were posting garbage.  The new format will: 1) still allow aliases, 2) make moderation easier, and 3) increase message board credibility, but you will have to log in with a username and password to post a reply or new message.  Posts may still be read without login.

Updated the Detail archives

Looking for 3 volunteer "Content Editors" to provide potential material for the Weekly Detail, edit submitted manuscripts, conduct occasional peer review, etc.  If you would like to contribute to the latent print discipline by being a Content Editor, please express your interest in an e-mail to

Member Comments


Thanks for including the article 'clue to bomb hoaxer' in 'The Detail 223'.

It's a nice surprise to see a case that I have worked on appear in an International newsletter.

After 22 years of Fingerprint work (16 as a SOCO/CSI), I still get a thrill from catching criminals. 
After three great crime scene examiners and I returned from the scenes, our dynamic latent fingerprint team set to work on identifying the Bomb Hoaxer.  Sergeant Mal WILLIAMS identified the offender on the public phones. 

What a brilliant feeling it is to be there when a major identification is made.  Even more so, to have personally gathered some of the evidence.

It makes a person damn proud to be a Fingerprint Expert or SOCO/CSI.

Also, we have to praise the Police Officers working in the lockups, jails and watchhouses who take the prints.  Without their great work we would have nothing.  Good info in, leads to great identifications coming out.

Kindest regards from Queensland Australia,
Adrian Bensted
Sgt 5515
Fingerprint Expert
Queensland Police Fingerprint Bureau
Brisbane Qld


Last week

we looked at the second part of a recent article by Simon Cole regarding latent print error.

This week

we examine commentary on this article set from the Message Forum.

"A Personal View of Mr. Cole's Letter"
CLPEX Message Forum

Posted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 3:10 pm

I am frankly, quite fed up with the constant accusations that the Science of Fingerprints is fallible. I read the series of two papers written by Simon Cole, where in his first part he attacked several instances, indicating that fingerprints were wrong - when in fact, it was fingerprints that made the story correct, and the operator was wrong.

(a) Loomis - "...the government admitted that Loomis was not the source..." Never indicated that the fingerprints were wrong.
(b) Stevens - "...that the print might have been forges." Seems to me there is human factor here, not the prints.
(c) Stoppelli - "...The FBI excluded Stoppelli as the source of the print..." from looking at the prints I guess.
(d) Caldwell - "...the latent print could not have been made by Caldwell..." testified by two Latent Print examiners. Here too, fingerprints cleared the person.

On and on for a total of 22 cases, Mr. Cole attempts to imply the fallibility of the latent fingerprint world - when in fact, at least to me, he proves the need for prints.

I listened to the testimony of an IAI Certified examiner (Mr. Ken Moses) for the defense in the Mayfield case, where he admitted he had made a mistake on his identification. I admire him for his honesty and I think it took a lot of guts to get up in front of his peers and admit to the gross mistake made by all involved. But, did I hurry out and write a book on how the system was incorrect and fallible? No! I attempted to look at the whole picture trying to see how I wouldn't fall into the same situation.

So far in my small career of 36 years of being a latent print examiner, I can proudly say that I have never made an erroneous match; but, I must add the word "yet", and can only hope and pray that I never will. (Just because I run my boat aground and put a hole in the bottom doesn't mean the boat business should be eliminated. I think I would need more training on how to operate the boat.) The same goes with the fingerprint field.

I did love one of his statements: "...or, perhaps latent print examiners have become increasingly complacement, and hence sloppy." Here-here, I couldn't agree more.

A suggestion for the fingerprint world is requiring more in-depth training for the people who want to become certified examiners, as well as on-going educational requirements.

Now as I begin to read the second part of Mr. Cole's letter, he seems to attack the term "ACE-V" but is constantly returning to his pet-peeve term "zero-error rate." He attacks Agent Meager on his being an "expert" within the "...scientific areas of methodologies..." and then if he was an " on their error rate."

Please forgive me, but last week my doctor attempted to get my blood pressure using a pressure cup - and it failed to work. He simply got another pressure cup and completed his examination. You know - I forgot to ask him about his "error rate" in the usage of that type of pressure cup and if he were an "expert" in his methodology of pressure cups. Am I missing something here?

But lets go on.

An attempt to indicate that we "dummies" out here in the field need to be "coached" on what to say in a court of law by "Wertheim fils" or even "Wertheim pere" (as Mr. Cole indicates) is nothing more than pure gibberish. Yes, Mr. Wertheim made a few suggestions on the possibility of using certain phrases when confronted in a court of law when asked about certain things concerning "error rates" - but to say I was coached - get real! I constantly look at different views from different people who have been through the same experiences that I have been through or am about to go through. It helps me to be a better orator.

Do I, or am I going to write down each and every error I make on a comparison - such as writing "left" instead of "right", or "No.#2" instead of "No.#7" - the answer is NO, I am not. As long as I am the person who makes the comparison and another person verifies the print have the final "correct" answer when it leaves our office, we have done our jobs.

To me, the issue of magnifying the possibility of "error rates" is just another smoke screen used by the guilty parties or someone attempting to write a book. I believe that if a person alters the attention from the true objective enough times - the "truth" will eventually be hidden.

Reply Posted: Sat Dec 10, 2005 12:59 pm Post subject: Simon Cole and fingerprint science

I agree with what you've taken the time and ownership to put out there. You are right in understanding that Cole is is not attacking the science of fingerprints but the competency of its practitioners. Where he adds strength to his argument are the cases that emerge where the practitioner has let the science down. In this sense the reliability of the practice brings into question the science. You made good examples of the doctor and the boating mishap, its all about competency and the regulation of the qualification. The practice of the science under the set number standard made it easy for Cole to suggest our house was not in order as a legitimate science. The science of fingerprint individualization is about the human form and not national or state policy. Under 'no set number' he simply attacks the competency of the examiner to get it right. An issue that assists the position of Cole is use of the term 'expert opinion' as a safeguard and a defacto probability. Expert opinion should only relate to court testimony and not to a fingerprint examination. We can already see that Cole will explore the examination outcome of 'insufficient' as a grey area of competency. Our science requires us to develop a presentation media that will accompany oral testimony as a full disclosure of the actual fingerprint examination. Food for thought but hopefully the message will get through to progressive leaders who will advance the cause.

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

Have a GREAT week!