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G o o d   M o r n i n g !
Monday, February 11, 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

New Fingerprint Agency 'shambolic' Ė SCOTSMAN, UK - Feb 10, 2008 - ...reform of police forensic services in the wake of the McKie fingerprint scandal has been branded a "shambolic" failure by staff...

Forensic Scientists Need to Evolve New Technologies to Counter Crimes Ė CHANDIGARTH NEWSLINE, INDIA - Feb 8, 2008  ...a three-day international symposium on ĎAdvances in Fingerprint Identificationí was organized by the Punjabi Universityís Department of Forensic Science...

"Innocence-Politics" Weighs Heavy on Senate Hearing - and the Law Ė CRIME LAB REPORT - Feb 7, 2008 ...the impact of "Innocence Politics" on
the Senate Judiciary Committee and its examination of NIJ's administration of forensic grants...

Framed? Ė THE PHOENIX, MA - Feb 7, 2008 - ...the police investigation of Stephan Cowans led to a wrongful conviction. Was it incompetent ó or corrupt?...

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 1202 16 Dec 2007 03:36 pm

Calls for Inquiry to be scrapped
Daktari 11870 10 Feb 2008 08:26 pm

KEPT - Keeping Examiners Prepared for Testimony
clpexco 271 10 Feb 2008 07:20 pm

Evidence Fabrication in South Africa
Pat A. Wertheim 11272 10 Feb 2008 11:04 am

Information Requested
Charles Parker 89 09 Feb 2008 08:05 pm

looking for good web sites
danielle 48 09 Feb 2008 08:06 am

More on Stephen Cowans
L.J.Steele 218 08 Feb 2008 07:34 pm

Confirming AFIS hits, ASCLD considerations
Alicia Wilcox 252 08 Feb 2008 02:49 am

Zero Error Rate vs. No Error Rate
Michele 1924 06 Feb 2008 06:16 pm

Body fluids on black bags
Philip Bekker 632 06 Feb 2008 03:00 pm

Anyone still using "paper prints"?
antonroland 398 05 Feb 2008 11:41 pm

Need help with an etched print on a gun magazine
Heather Baxter 257 05 Feb 2008 04:26 pm

LPE and Forensic Tech Positions - CONUS/OCONUS
wkpetroka 6437 04 Feb 2008 07:06 pm

Statistics and Misidentifications - The weeks Detail
Michele 38869 04 Feb 2008 03:05 pm



Updated the Fingerprint Interest Group web page with FIG # 32

Inserted KEPT #6 - Terminology - Identify, Individualize, or ID?  Discuss this topic on - a discussion has been created for KEPT.

Last week

we looked at the first 2008 edition of the DoD Biometric Scan.

This week

Michele Triplett brings us an independent user-review of the Competency Assessment Services Limited (CAS Ltd.) latent print examination proficiency test.
CAS Ltd. Review
by Michele Triplett

Itís always important for Latent Print Examiners to show theyíre proficient and competent at their job. Some people use their years of experience, some people tout the accreditation of their lab, some people become certified by the IAI, and others take yearly proficiency tests. In the past, Collaborative Testing Services (CTS) has been the only company to provide testing services to the latent print community. If a person or agency wanted a different type of test (or a different level of testing), the only option was to make up their own.

Recently a new company, Competency Assessment Services Limited (CAS Ltd.), has started providing latent print testing services. This company is based out of England but has several representatives within the United States. I have no affiliation with this company. My interests are in knowing the benefits and shortcomings of whatís available to our discipline.

Since 2001, Iíve participated in CTS proficiency testing but Iíve always wanted more out of a proficiency test. At one time I emailed CTS asking them if they ever planned on expanding their test to include any of the following: testing examiners for their ability to make exclusions rather than just individualizations; asking examiners for justification to support conclusions; and asking examiners to state the proper scientific principles behind arriving at a conclusion. Months went by but I never heard back from CTS. Some latent print examiners feel that CTS does test the ability to exclude different suspects but the term they use, NI (Not Identified), is confusing. While some people take this to mean exclusion, others think ĎNot Identifiedí indicates they couldnít find the exemplar that left this latent print. And then there are others who use NI to indicate that consistency exists but not sufficiency. Regardless of the intent, this is an area that could be clarified and tested.

Back in 2006, I was very excited to see that Quality Forensics was advertising that they would have a new test available in early 2007. I donít know the details as to why, but this project never resulted in offering a new proficiency test to LPEís.

Later in 2006 I heard about CAS Ltd. I immediately contacted them to see how their test was going to differ from what was currently available. I was pleased to get a response from them right way. They told me that their test would test individuals, have quality materials, would be made with ground truth conclusions, would be proctored independently, and would be timed. They were hoping to have their testing academically accredited as well as sanctioned by ASCLD/LAB. The current CTS test can be taken by an individual or taken as a group by an entire lab. Since each test is proctored by the agency taking the test, it may not represent the proficiency of individual examiners.

I decided that taking the CAS Ltd. test would tell me what I needed to know. In early January, CAS Ltd. coordinated the details with Lloyd Thomas from the Seattle Police Department (a neighboring agency to mine). They mailed him the test and he generously agreed to oversee the testing process. He arrived in my office the morning of February 8, 2008. The test was still sealed so we opened it and began the testing process. The materials were of the highest quality. The quality was so good that the exemplars looked just like inked prints. This was very different from what I was used to. The CTS test provides color photographs of black and white latent prints and exemplars. The result is a color distortion that leaves a yellowing on all the test materials. This never interfered with my ability to complete a CTS test, but I did immediately notice the difference. The CAS Ltd. test was three hours long and the directions indicated that I could use a comparator. I didnít use one however, as Iíve never used or seen a comparator, and donít have access to one. My office enlarges and enhances images using Adobe Photoshop which serves a similar purpose. Since this wasnít mentioned in the testing directions I just used my 4.5x magnifiers.

I should mention that I became an LPE in 1998, finished my training in the end of 1999, and became certified in 2003. Iím not one those amazing LPEís that can individualize the smallest distorted latent print in a matter of minutes. Sometimes I get lucky, but for the most part I consider myself to be the ďaverageĒ examiner. Iím also anxious by nature, so timed tests are not something Iím fond of.

Reading the directions was included in the three hours given to take the test. I instantly thought this was eating into my comparison time and regretted having been so inquisitive about this test. I should have just been happy that Iíve always passed the CTS tests Iíve taken. The test included 12 latent prints and 6 sets of exemplars. The first two latent prints I looked for I couldnít find. About 45 minutes had passed and I hadnít identified one print. This wasnít looking good. I thought of little tricks that Ron Smith (from RSA) had taught me in my training and the next latent I picked up was identified to the first person I looked at. Part of my anxiety was caused by a new test that I wasnít familiar with. If I took this test again, Iím sure Iíd feel more comfortable. Iím not making excuses for my results, Iím happy with how I did. I donít know what constitutes a passing score but I identified 8 out of the 12 latent prints and excluded the exemplars from leaving one latent print. I was hesitant about excluding the others without getting a good night sleep and double checking my conclusions the next day (something I may do in actual case work).

Like I said earlier, the quality of the materials was excellent. The difficulty level was perfect, maybe a little harder than typical casework but this level of difficulty is needed by LPEís. The test reminded me of the IAI Certification Test and it had a good combination of latent prints from different parts of the hands. I also liked that the test was arranged so that the examiner had to look at the rolled impressions, the flats, and the palm prints because many of the latent prints couldnít just be individualized to the rolled impression. The cost of this test is $275.00 which is very comparable, yet slightly less expensive, to the cost of the CTS Test.

I would highly recommend this test as a way to show the competence of any LPE. Even if agencies donít require such a test, this is an excellent way for examiners to demonstrate their competence. One of the best aspects is that it has the difficulty level of the IAIís Certification Test but itís available to examiners who donít have the experience required to take the Certification Test. This is something that the IAI considered in the past, but was never developed. Using the CAS Ltd. test would also be a legitimate way to determine the abilities of potential examiners for hiring purposes. I think the independent proctoring is a step above the CTS test. This sort of objectivity is essential in a scientific profession.

An element of testing that Iím still trying to promote for all agencies and companies is to require justification of conclusions. My personal feeling is that this should be essential since the foundation of scientific conclusions is in the justification. Since this is a vital part of science, proficiency and competency should take both the conclusion and the justification into account. The CAS Ltd. test comes with a very professional workbook that has plenty of room for justification but itís not required at this time. I also wonder how a conclusion would be scored if someone recognized the consistency between a latent and the exemplar but they didnít individualize it due to their own sufficiency requirements.

After this was written, a representative of CAS Ltd. responded to an email I sent. Mr. Peter Whent indicated that only latent print examiners would be able to take this test. Eight correct conclusions (of either individualization or exclusion) were considered a passing score. He also indicated CAS Ltd. is currently working with ASCLD/LAB to become accredited. If I understood him correctly, CAS will be turning in the paperwork within the next 28 days. CAS also plans on having a ten print competency test available in the future.

If youíd like more information on this company and the tests they provide you can visit their website at or contact them at

From the website:

CAS Ltd considers that it is providing the only truly bespoke and fit for purpose independent competency test currently available to the fingerprint profession.

It is the only test in the profession with a robust process of invigilation under controlled conditions that can be conducted in house at the premises of the customer.

What We Do

 The Test and Testing Procedure

  • Testing only of bona fide fingerprint practitioners who must firstly demonstrate that they have received relevant training.
  • All tests are conducted in anonymity.
  • CAS Ltd recommends that practitioners should be competency tested every 24 months.
  • Testing will be accredited by London South Bank University

How We Do It

CAS Ltd has developed its own database of finger marks and fingerprints from consenting donors, ensuring that every mark in their database is from a known person.

The data provided in the test is drawn from the database and the competency testing reflects the type of material that would normally be expected to be received into an average fingerprints bureau during a routine day.

The test requires the applicant to:

  • Undertake a 3 hour timed test
  • Be allocated a unique reference number for each candidate
  • Be supervised by an independent Invigilator
  • Be Independently assessed
  • Have the right of one appeal only

Meet The Team

The team consists of Martin Leadbetter Peter Whent, and Graham Gyford, a strong and experienced team dedicated to striving for excellence.

Martin Leadbetter RFP FFS BA (Hons) has more than 40 years experience in fingerprint identification. He is currently chairman of the Fingerprint Society, A Distinguished Member of IAI, UK Representative for the IAI and a member of its editorial board and is a Registered Forensic Practitioner with CRFP. Originally trained at New Scotland Yard, he recently retired as Head of the Fingerprint Bureau for Cambridgeshire Constabulary. He has recently been a consultant to the European Commission, worked for the Forensic Science Service and was a consultant and training officer for Sagem. He has conducted many bench-marks of AFIS Systems throughout the world and in all continents.

Peter John WHENT QPM LLB FILT FRSA CLTHE.  Peter completed 32 years police service, serving as a Detective Chief Superintendent and rising to Assistant Chief Officer level. He was awarded the Queen's Police Medal for distinguished police service. He is a qualified part time academic tutor at a London University, lecturing in Forensic Science, the Principles of Investigation, and Major Disaster.

He also provides counter terrorist advice internationally specialising in transport and buildings. Is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Fellow and Chair of the UK Security forum of the Institute of Transport and Logistics, a National Council Member of Victim Support, and a member of the Independent Advisory Group for Essex Police.

Graham Gyford has been involved in Sales, Management Development and Human Resources for his entire career and has worked for organisations such as First National Bank, Citibank, Lombard Finance and Abbey National. He has also undertaken freelance consultancy work with the Police Service, The Economist Group, HSBC and GE Capital.

Graham has vast experience in the field of developing and conducting assessment and development centres since 1991. He has actively advised and coached businesses to develop their strategy through use of Balanced Business Scorecard methodology and managed high profile HR projects involving business relocation and corporate takeovers.

Sam Durrett Sam has over 35 years experience in fingerprints and has worked extensively with law enforcement and forensic agencies throughout the United States and worldwide including countries as diverse as Honduras, Poland, the Philippines and South Africa just to name a few. As a forensic analyst he has been involved in conducting both laboratory and field investigations concerning a wide range of serious crimes.

He has testified as an expert witness in court throughout the States both at State and local levels and also other miscellaneous proceedings concerning forensic examinations.

Sam is also a qualified trainer in all aspects of fingerprints and has lectured at many academies and professional conferences at various locations around the world and apart from fingerprints, covering such topics as criminology, criminal law and crime scene investigation.

Scott M. Glazebrook Scott has been a Latent Print Identification practitioner since 1994 with the Florida State Law Enforcement Department and other local law enforcement offices and since 2001 gas testified many times in Circuit Courts.

He is a qualified trainer in Latent Print comparison and has been teaching the various aspects of fingerprint work for the Department of the International Association of Identification (FDIA)

Frank J Rodgers Frank was formerly Assistant Administrator for the Laboratory Services Bureau within the United States Phoenix Police Department in Arizona, With over 35 years experience in fingerprints covering Comparative Analysis, Automated Fingerprint Systems, Image Enhancement and Laser/Forensic light Systems. Frank's experience also includes Crime Scene Photography, Reconstruction and Investigation.

He is qualified expert witness within his specialities in criminal and civil cases in Municipal, Justice, Superior and Federal Courts


KEPT - Keeping Examiners Prepared for Testimony - #6
Terminology - Identify, Individualize, or ID?
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 Terminology - Identify, Individualize, or ID:

This could be any question that relates to the identification process.


Possible Answers:

a)      I identified the subjectÖÖ

b)      I individualized the subjectÖ

c)      I IDíd the subjectÖ..

d)     This latent print matches the middle finger ofÖ..

e)      This image was made by one in the same individualÖ..



Which term or phrase you use may not seem important but you never know what other experts in a case are saying, whether itís another latent print person or an expert from another forensic discipline. These ideas donít necessarily have to come from someone elseís testimony.  Attorneys may bring up topics from other court cases, from books, and from articles during closing arguments. 

Itís possible that one examiner continually uses the term Ďidentifyí during his testimony and then another expert testifies that the term identify means that youíre putting something into a certain class or group and it doesnít mean that youíre specifically individualizing something.  If this concept is brought into court then it could severely impact the way a judge or jury thinks about what youíre saying.

The best way to insure there are no misunderstandings is to use the proper terminology.  We can identify a latent print as a whorl (classify it into a certain group) or we may be able to individualize a latent print to a certain person (which is a more specific type of identification).


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

Have a GREAT week!