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G o o d   M o r n i n g !
Monday, January 21, 2008

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

Suspect from 1988 Fatal Stabbing Ordered to Stand Trial Ė SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, WA - Jan 20, 2008 - ...after running his fingerprints through the FBI database, it was discovered he was wanted for murder...

Burglar? I'm Just the Locksmith! Ė GLOUCESTERSHIRE ECHO, UK - Jan 18, 2008 - was arrested for burglary when police found his fingerprints on locks he'd fixed...

Prison Inmate Pleads Guilty in 1973 Murder Ė NORTH COUNTY TIMES, CA - Jan 16, 2008 ...fingerprints were recovered at the scene, but law enforcement did not have the computerized technology available at the time to identify the prints...

FBI Proposes International Crime Database Ė UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL - Jan 15, 2007  ...the FBI wants Britain to join a new database that could track millions of criminals and suspects...

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

Announcement: Click link any time for recent, relevant fingerprint NEWS
clpexco 853 16 Dec 2007 03:36 pm

2006 Article from Judicature Journal - Improving Reliability
Steve Everist 375 20 Jan 2008 11:49 am

Legal Misconduct
mdavis 52 19 Jan 2008 06:18 pm

Evidence Fabrication in South Africa
Pat A. Wertheim 7043 19 Jan 2008 03:43 pm

Authentication of Da Vinci painting
sharon cook 637 18 Jan 2008 08:58 pm

They Walk Among Us
Charles Parker 4188 18 Jan 2008 08:53 pm

[ Poll ] Preliminary Identification: Poll and comments (hypothetical)
lpexaminer 451 18 Jan 2008 05:11 pm

Digital Evidence Server
Bob McAuley 153 18 Jan 2008 03:33 pm

Calls for Inquiry to be scrapped
Daktari 6922 17 Jan 2008 05:27 pm

Rat Hearts Grown in Lab
sharon cook 180 17 Jan 2008 01:10 pm

Statistics and Misidentifications - The weeks Detail
Michele 37508 15 Jan 2008 09:30 am

Body fluids on black bags
Philip Bekker 309 14 Jan 2008 04:23 pm



Updated the Fingerprint Interest Group web page with FIG # 29.

Updated the Smiley Files with a new submission from Melissa Graf.

Updated the Detail Archives.

Inserted KEPT (Keeping Examiners Prepared for Testimony) #3 - Evaluation / Sufficiency - How Much is Enough?

Last week

we reviewed letters to the editor and responses on confirmation bias and other cognitive issues published recently in Fingerprint Whorld.

This week

we rewind a few weeks to catch up with the December IAI Update:
December IAI Update
by Joe Polski

Hello again from the IAI office.

Thank You Note

Many of you knew Steve Meagher who recently retired from the FBI. Steve worked for many years as a fingerprint examiner and in various supervisory positions with the FBI Laboratory. Steve was also a member of the IAIís Board of Directors and at last summerís conference chose not to run again for that position. Steve recently sent the following note to the IAI office and I thought I would share it with all of you:

To the IAI Board of Directors and Officers,

Thank you for the recognition and honor of receiving the John A. Dondero Memorial Award. Words alone cannot adequately express my gratitude. As you all know, you completely caught me unaware and truly surprised me during the banquet. I received the most beautiful plaque during the CBD-IAI Fall Conference and will proudly display it in my home office now that I am retired. I will always have the greatest respect for the IAI and am grateful for all that it has done for me.


(Signed) Steve Meagher

On behalf of the officers and members of the IAI, I would like to express our collective thanks for all that Steve did for the fingerprint science during his tenure with the FBI. He, along with Assistant US Attorney Paul Sarmousakis, spearheaded the response to the first Daubert challenge to latent fingerprint identification and as you all know, that response was successful. Steve participated in numerous Daubert hearings involving fingerprints in the subsequent years and was the ďgo toĒ guy for those hearings as well as a primary trainer of those involved with those hearings.

We wish Steve all the best in retirement and hope he now has time to enjoy fishing!!!

National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Forensics Summit

NIJ will hold a forensics summit on December 17 and 18 in Washington, DC. I am honored to have been invited to that summit. The summit will bring together various forensic science stakeholders to discuss future directions and funding priorities. Forensic science advocates, critics, Innocence Project leadership, the defense bar and other disparate but affected stakeholders are invited. This should be a most interesting meeting. More information will be provided in future columns.

NIJ AFIS Interoperability Working Group

As noted in the last Monthly Update, NIJ is exploring the creation of a technical working group to explore AFIS interoperability between state and local AFIS systems of disparate manufacture. As you know this issue has been around for a long time and is one of the line items that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Forensic Committee has been asked to explore. The IAI has sent a list of suggested names to NIJ for their consideration for membership on this working group. At this time, NIJ leadership has signed off on the concept of the working group and it is moving forward. If it comes to fruition, there will undoubted be sub-groups that will address specific areas of interoperability. There are many issues to deal with: Legal and policy, technical, transmission modes, security etc. We are very excited that this longstanding problem is finally getting traction. More information will be provided as it is available.

FBI Advisory Policy Board (APB) Meeting

As the IAIís representative to the FBIís Advisory Policy Board, I had the privilege to attend the meeting that just concluded in Phoenix, Arizona. Approximately 30 topics were on the agenda. Those topics ranged from issues dealing with IFIS, NGI, US-VISIT, Homeland Security, Department of Defense biometric initiatives and many others.

A few items might be of particular interest to our members:

ē The selection of an integrator for Next Generation Identification (NGI) System is set for early 2008. The specifications are complete and the FBI is ready to begin development as soon as the contractor selection process is complete.

ē You will hear much more in the future about NDEx, a national data exchange program that will allow the exchange of law enforcement offense reports, to include narrative information, between law enforcement agencies. NDEx is a result of the lack of information sharing that was brought to light after 9/11. This is a very, very large system that will eventually contain offense information from most of the nationís law enforcement agencies.

Secure access to NDEx information is of prime concern but it appears the security issues have largely been resolved using the same sort of authentication and security tools used by the banking industry.

ē Folks from the US-VISIT program presented an overview of the use of ten prints vs. two prints for those persons applying for a VISA to enter the United States as well as capturing ten prints of visitors who come from other countries. These prints will be taken at the nationís airports using a fast-capture device. A test project was recently rolled out at Dulles Airport near Washington, DC and the system is soon set to debut in Miami, Boston, Newark, San Francisco and several other large airports. There is no doubt that this capability, which will link through to shared data from IAFIS, will go a long way in identifying those individuals who may be less than desirable visitors to the US.

National Institute of Standards (NIST) Handheld Standards Project

There is no shortage of handheld fingerprint capture devices hitting the market and many agencies are purchasing or contemplating the purchase of such devices. At the present time however, there are no standards in place for those devices. As an example, a device that will work with one vendorís AFIS system in state ďAĒ will not work with another vendorís AFIS system in state ďBĒ. This is becoming problematic as agencies continue to purchase these devices and expand their use. As an example, lets say Milwaukee, Wisconsin issues these devices to their officers allowing them to take one or two prints of an individual, transmit them to the Wisconsin AFIS system and get a positive or negative response. They cannot however query Minnesotaís of Illinoisí AFIS systems due to the lack of interoperability of both the handheld device and the AFIS system itself. These devices may have limited access to IAFIS but there is much more data available in state and local AFIS systems, especially relative to minor offenses, than there is at the federal level. This is another consequence of the lack of interoperability of AFIS of different manufacture and will be compounded with hand-held devices.

NIST has created a task force to identify the issues involved with standardization of these devices. Peter Komarinski, Chair of the IAIís AFIS Committee is the IAIís official representative to this committee. There has been one meeting and more are scheduled. Iíll keep you updated on this initiative as it becomes available.


As the end of yet another year rolls around, I would like to thank all those who give so generously of their time and talent to make the IAI the successful association it is today. The current membership of 7,062 is an all time high for the IAI and continues to place the IAI at the forefront of forensic organizations. The educational opportunities offered through the IAI, the annual educational conference, the networking and contacts available to our members as well as the associationís seven certification programs all combine to give the IAI unprecedented visibility. Beginning in February 2008, the association will begin to publish a newsletter titled Identification News that will be mailed to all members bi-monthly.

We say goodbye to those members and officers who have served so well and give a hearty welcome to those who are new and will carry the association into the future.

On behalf of the IAI office staff, Jennifer, Molly and me, best wishes for a wonderful holiday season, a very Merry Christmas and a happy and productive new year!!!


KEPT - Keeping Examiners Prepared for Testimony - #3
Evaluation / Sufficiency - How Much is Enough?
by Michele Triplett, King County Sheriff's Office

Disclaimer:  The intent of this is to provide thought provoking discussion.  No claims of accuracy exist. 


Question Ė Sufficiency:

How do you know when you have enough to establish an individualization?


Possible Answers:

a)      Our office uses a point standard of 10 level 2 details.

b)      If a conclusion can be verified then sufficiency exists.

c)      Itís a mental process and I know it when I see it.

d)     It isnít dependent on a quantifiable amount of information; it depends on the cumulative information of quality, quantity, and the rarity of the level 2 and level 3 details.

e)      When you move from looking for consistent characteristics between the images to predicting that characteristics will be consistent then youíve established sufficiency.

f)       Sufficiency is when you reach a point where a rational educated person doing a thorough examination would arrive at the same conclusion.

g)      You have a sufficient amount of information when you have enough to hold up to the scrutiny of others.

h)      Iím not only looking for consistency with this known print but Iím also trying to eliminate or rule out the possibility of any other person from leaving this latent print.  I determine if I think itís possible to ever see this combination or sequence of characteristics from happening again. 

i)        Friction ridge individualization is established through the agreement of friction ridge formations, in sequence, having sufficient uniqueness to individualize.



This is one of the most common questions asked of examiners.  Many times this question is looking to see if you have an objective criteria for an individualization.  No objective criteria exists but science doesnít require an objective criteria.  Science recognizes that we never know the ground truth but we can reliably indicate it with the diligent use of accepted principles and rigorous scrutiny.  Just because there isnít an objective criteria doesnít mean that we intuit when weíve arrive at an individualization and it doesnít mean that we donít have standards.

Answer a:  Point standards are not a bad thing but itís important to understand that they are more of an artificial safety net than a standard because they havenít been scientifically established.  Often times point standards are used in technical conclusions where analytical thinking isnít used (when computers are making individualization) or when the totality of the information isnít understood by the practitioner. To help understand the minimum needed to arrive at a conclusion of individualizations, it may be useful to know that individualizations have been made using absolutely no level 2 details.

Answer b:  We all know of conclusions that have been verified but turned out to be erroneous.  Answer b many sound reasonable but itís inaccurate.

Answer c:  Scientific conclusions need to have justification available if anyone should ever want it.  Many of us arenít use to explaining how we arrived at our conclusions but itís important to understand that this is a scientific protocol.  All conclusions donít need to be justified but they do need to be justifiable should anyone ever ask to hear the justification.

Answers d-h:  The correct answer about sufficiency is not a quick and easy answer.  It involves a lot of scientific understanding and itís a combination of answers d-h.  Science likes conclusions that have justification behind them and have been reviewed by others. Thereís more weight given to collective opinions than in single opinions.

Answer i:  This is the standard of what is needed for an individualization but it doesnít state how much is needed.

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

Have a GREAT week!