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Monday, March 24, 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...
by Kasey Wertheim (your name could be here!)
LA cold case detectives arrest man suspected in 1975 murder
Contra Costa Times, CA - Mar 21, 2008
Her murder went unsolved until 1993, when homicide detectives ran a search on fingerprints and found that two prints left at Johnston's house matched those ...
Letter writer is an 'apple-pie American'
Modesto Bee, CA - Mar 19, 2008
"Daniel Cron currently works part-time contracting with the State of California as a  Certified Latent (fingerprint) Print Examiner, ...
Beating likely grounded pilot's career
Daytona Beach News-Journal, FL - Mar 16, 2008
"What he meant was that police would not be able to find any of his fingerprints in my house, but they did," McEvoy said ...
Public Safety: Crime, FL - Mar 16, 2008
The tube raises the fingerprint, which then can be dusted and put on a latent lift card for analysis. Whatever they process, whether it be an old candy ...
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 1752 16 Dec 2007 03:36 pm

KEPT - Keeping Examiners Prepared for Testimony
clpexco 2132 24 Mar 2008 02:00 am

Evidence Fabrication in South Africa
Pat A. Wertheim 16643 24 Mar 2008 01:28 am

Error Rate Paper
g. 447 24 Mar 2008 12:19 am

Judge to head fingerprint inquiry
sharon cook 1616 22 Mar 2008 05:20 pm

Calls for Inquiry to be scrapped
Daktari 19507 21 Mar 2008 08:18 pm

Distortion Class in Minnesota
g. 191 19 Mar 2008 08:41 pm

Case at Supreme Court
Pat A. Wertheim 360 18 Mar 2008 01:18 pm



Updated the Fingerprint Interest Group (FIG) page with FIG #37.

Inserted Keeping Examiners Prepared for Testimony (KEPT) #12: Blind Verification - Concerns.   Discuss this topic on - a discussion has been created for KEPT.

Last week

we looked at the SWGFAST draft for comment on Simultaneous Impressions.

This week

although late, we look at the SWGFAST Update by Chairperson Lenny Butt as well as the process to return comments to SWGFAST on reviewed documents.
September, 2007

The mission of the Scientific Working Group on Friction Ridge Analysis, Study and Technology (SWGFAST) is to establish consensus guidelines and standards for the forensic examination of fingerprints, palm prints and foot prints.

SWGFAST, established in 1995, is one of several Scientific Working Groups (SWG). The overall intent of Scientific Working Groups is to improve forensic science practices and build consensus amongst federal, state, and local forensic laboratories and practitioners. The SWGs are a focal point for discussion on key issues confronting various forensic science disciplines which will lead to the establishment of guidelines and standards through consensus and general acceptance. The guidelines and standards published by them are widely recognized by the forensic community, the courts, and the forensic laboratory accrediting bodies.

SWGFAST has developed and published standards, guidelines and recommended practices for many areas of specific interest to the latent print community. There are a number of new topics that are currently being worked on and several more under consideration for the future. SWGFAST addresses this workload on a consensus decision of priority as determined by the members.

The membership of SWGFAST is comprised of a diverse group of dedicated and professionally recognized individuals. This includes not only latent print experts from law enforcement agencies, but also defense experts, researchers, instructors, academicians, laboratory managers, and others. This group’s diversity provides a varied perspective which results in well thought-out, heavily scrutinized guidelines and standards even before they go out for comment to the general scientific community.

SWGFAST has expanded its focus from only forensic latent print examinations to include tenprint examinations and operations. The fundamental principles and scientific foundations for friction ridge impression examinations are the same for both types of examinations. However, there are specific aspects of each which have unique circumstances and applications and require separate considerations when establishing best practices. Because of these differences, SWGFAST has established a Standing Committee to specifically address tenprint examinations.

The committee will meet for the first time in the Spring of 2008. Membership within SWGFAST has been expanded to include experts to address this aspect of the fingerprint discipline. It is recognized by SWGFAST that the differences between the two applications of fingerprints is not readily discernible outside of the fingerprint expert community. This is most evident when the courts are considering fingerprint testimony, whether it is tenprint testimony for prior arrest record purposes during sentencing or latent print testimony during trial. The expansion of SWGFAST to include the tenprint examinations is a natural progression and will build a strong tie between these two distinct applications of fingerprints under one Scientific Working Group.

During SWGFAST deliberations over the years, it became evident that the discipline was lacking a central resource for information with the related reference material for many of the issues being discussed. SWGFAST initiated a proposal to create a Fingerprint SourceBook. The National Institute of Justice sponsored the SourceBook project via a grant to West Virginia University. This will become a significant asset to the fingerprint community. The manner of and final release dates have yet to be determined.

Another significant initiative currently involving SWGFAST is the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study for Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Science Community. The U.S. Congress under the Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006 (public law # 109-108), has provided funding for this study. SWGFAST is supportive of this endeavor, and has committed to acting as an expert resource to the NAS committee. During the second NAS open meeting a SWGFAST representative presented before the Committee providing insight to our business practices, as well as the SWGFAST created guidelines and standards. This included information regarding the acceptance and enforcement of the guidelines and standards, as well as quality assurance, and research issues.

The SWGFAST guidelines, standards, position statements, and a resource kit for the press, are available on Feedback regarding documents that have been published as a “draft for comment,” or suggestions for new documents, the press kit, position statements, or research topics may be submitted via the website. An automated response will acknowledge the submission and the comments will be presented at a subsequent SWGFAST meeting.

During the SWGFAST meeting of September 17 to 21, 2007 The Stephen B. Meagher Commitment to the Friction Ridge Science Award was established. This award is intended for SWGFAST members who have demonstrated outstanding efforts in promoting the friction ridge science and SWGFAST. The first presentation of the award was made to Stephen Meagher.

The next scheduled meeting of SWGFAST will be held in Huntsville, Texas the week of April 27 to May 2, 2008.

Leonard Butt, Chair

Scientific Working Group on Friction Ridge Analysis, Study and Technology
September 2007

Submitting Comments

According to the SWGFAST Bylaws, documents presented as "drafts for comment" are published for community review. During this review period, the community is encouraged to submit comments on any "draft for comment" document.

Although interested persons may contact any SWGFAST member to discuss the documents, comments and suggestions for changes must be submitted to the SWGFAST Executive Secretary to be reviewed at a SWGFAST meeting.

The comment period for a "draft for comment" document will extend until the SWGFAST meeting following the next International Association for Identification Annual Educational Seminar.

Comments and suggestions for changes must be submitted in writing, with contributor information (name, address, phone number, and email address), to the SWGFAST Executive Secretary. Contributor information will allow SWGFAST to contact the contributor for additional information if necessary, and notify the contributor of the outcome of the SWGFAST discussions on the comment.

Maggie Black, Executive Secretary
Orange County Sheriff-Coroner
Forensic Science Services
320 N. Flower Street
Santa Ana, CA 92703


KEPT - Keeping Examiners Prepared for Testimony - #12
Blind Verification - Concerns
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 – Concerns over Blind Verification:

What would some concerns be when doing blind verification?


Possible Answers:

a)      Since the original evidence has the conclusions written on it, how do we recreate the evidence and not jeopardize the quality of the images.

b)      If we use reproduced images then it’s not a true representation of the original evidence.

c)      It’s time consuming and we don’t have the time to do this on every case.

d)     One concern is that people think blind verification is the best quality assurance measure but it doesn’t look at the reasons behind a conclusion, which is a scientific protocol.

e)      Blind verification has a place in looking at reliability but it shouldn’t be used as a replacement for peer review.



This is the perfect opportunity to say that blind verification isn’t the best quality assurance measure.  It looks for reliable conclusions but it doesn’t insure the principles and methods used were reliable enough to be used.

Answers a and b:  We may not be able to reproduce images that are exactly like the originals but it is possible to duplicate images so they’re an adequate representation of the of the originals.

Answer c:  This is a truthful statement but it disregards the fact that blind verification isn’t needed in every case.  Blind verification is a tool to protect against bias and bias is only a problem when alternative conclusions are plausible (in complex comparisons).

Answers d and e:  I think both of these answers educate the courts about blind verification.


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

Have a GREAT week!