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Monday, June 23, 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
Thieves break into Lake home, steal Yorkie
Orlando Sentinel, FL - Jun 19, 2008
The McKinnons are hoping that a latent fingerprint found by Lake County Sheriff's Office will reveal the identity of the dognapper. ...
Darlie Routier talks of new hope from death row
Texas Cable News, TX - Jun 18, 2008
The judge denied a request to a bloody fingerprint that could not be linked to anyone during original testing. Routier said there are two such fingerprints. ...
Man charged with Beach Bay murder
Cay Compass, Cayman Islands - Jun 16, 2008
“When sample fingerprints of the accused were compared with the fingerprint impressions on the door, the expert concluded that they were made by the same ...
DNA More Effective Than Fingerprints in Solving Property Crimes
AScribe (press release) - Jun 16, 2008
In crime scenes where biological evidence was collected and tested, DNA evidence was five times more likely than fingerprints to yield a suspect and nine ...

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

Click link any time for recent, relevant fingerprint NEWS
by clpexco on 16 Dec 2007 03:36 pm 0 Replies 3253 Views Last post by clpexco
on 16 Dec 2007 03:36 pm

KEPT - Keeping Examiners Prepared for Testimony
1, 2, 3, 4, 5by clpexco on 29 Jan 2008 11:52 pm 69 Replies 7175 Views Last post by clpexco
on 23 Jun 2008 03:00 am

Conclusions: differences vs conflicts
by Michele on 22 Jun 2008 05:21 pm 1 Replies 29 Views Last post by clpexco
on 22 Jun 2008 08:08 pm

"Forged" fingerprints
1 ... 5, 6, 7by Pat A. Wertheim on 20 Apr 2008 05:21 pm 92 Replies 11554 Views Last post by Dunton
on 22 Jun 2008 03:48 pm

Double blind verifications - a discussion on ideas and SOPs
by antonroland on 19 Jun 2008 07:30 am 10 Replies 252 Views Last post by Randall
on 21 Jun 2008 11:42 pm

Lord Johnston
by charlton97 on 21 Jun 2008 08:07 am 1 Replies 71 Views Last post by Pat A. Wertheim
on 21 Jun 2008 03:35 pm

Keeping Elimination Prints
by Terry A. Smith on 13 Jun 2008 11:46 am 3 Replies 219 Views Last post by David Johnson
on 20 Jun 2008 09:57 pm

Advice on tenprint retrieval
by antonroland on 19 Jun 2008 06:47 am 2 Replies 126 Views Last post by RL Tavernaro
on 20 Jun 2008 04:23 pm

information on clear ID
by Wayne B. Reutzel on 19 Jun 2008 12:33 am 4 Replies 202 Views Last post by George Reis
on 19 Jun 2008 09:56 pm

Dr. Henry Lee makes life interesting for the rest of us.
1, 2by Cindy Rennie on 22 May 2008 10:57 am 27 Replies 2998 Views Last post by Paul R Bivens
on 19 Jun 2008 06:28 pm

Latent Print Exam and Forensic Tech Positions - CONUS/OCONUS
by wkpetroka on 15 Apr 2008 06:31 pm 1 Replies 624 Views Last post by wkpetroka
on 17 Jun 2008 12:50 pm

Documenting Verification
by FPB on 11 Jun 2008 02:16 pm 1 Replies 291 Views Last post by sharon cook
on 17 Jun 2008 12:43 pm



Updated the Fingerprint Interest Group (FIG) page with FIG #50; Void and other distortion, submitted by Toby Cross.  You can send your example of unique distortion to Charlie Parker:  For discussion, visit the forum FIG thread.

Updated the forum Keeping Examiners Prepared for Testimony (KEPT) thread with KEPT #25; Accreditations - Organizations, submitted by Michelle Triplett.  You can send your questions on courtroom topics to Michelle Triplett:

Updated the Detail Archives


Last week

we heard about a talk about latent print examination at the Maryland State Bar Association's annual meeting.

This week

we consider quality assurance policies and procedures related to differences of opinion / conflicting conclusions in latent print examination.

Conclusions: Differences Versus Conflicts
Michelle Triplett and Kasey Wertheim
Posts to forum on June 22, 2008

(Quoted from another thread - referring to the FBI procedures) "If there is not a unanimous opinion as to a particular conclusion, the supervisor institutes conflict resolution procedures according to Standard Operating Procedures."

I’ve seen that people have different perceptions of this idea and I’m looking for a little clarification (not on FBI policies but on everyone’s understanding of this).

Version 1: The statement above makes it sound like all ‘differing’ conclusions go to conflict resolution. This included one person making an identification but another person states ‘no ID effected’ or even a conclusion of exclusion. The SWGFAST statements seem to support this view. This implies that ‘different’ conclusions are the same as ‘conflicting’ conclusions.

Version 2: I recently heard from a supervisor of an ASCLD/Lab accredited agency and he stated that ‘differences are ok as long as they aren’t conflicting. Differences can be due to ability and/or tolerance levels’. This implies that there’s a difference between ‘differing’ and ‘conflicting’ conclusions.

Do more people side with the first view or the second? Does ASCLD/Lab have a view on ‘differences of opinions’ v ‘conflicts’ (I’m not from an accredited lab, that’s why I’m asking)? Do all differences (even minor oversights) have to go to conflict resolution? If Examiner #1 excludes and the verifier finds the ID and brings it back to Examiner #1, who now sees that in fact it is an ID, can’t this just be noted or does it still need to go through a conflict resolution?

If agencies have polices stating that ‘all conflicts need to go to conflict resolution’, does that mean ‘all differing conclusions’ go through conflict resolution? Does each agency define a ‘conflict’ differently or is there one general accepted meaning and the supervisor above (in version 2) misunderstands the common usage?

This could even be taken a step further, if someone makes an ID and then the verifier shows them why it's not an ID (an erroneous Identification), is this only a problem if the original examiner stands by their decision (making conflicting conclusions)? And it's not a problem if the original examiner changes their conclusion (making this more of an oversight than an error)?

For some reason I'm drawn to the concepts of quality assurance and quality control as they relate to differences and conflicts. I think part of my interest stems from involvement in several such cases. I have missed ID's and found ID's others have missed, but we would probably all argue this eventually happens to us all. I have been the examiner that found an erroneous identification and I have seen an erroneous exclusion on a good identification that I made. In both of these cases, the examiners are still employed in active casework - I think the day of sacrificing the examiner for a single mistake are over and that instead we are turning to standard procedures and policies that guide our actions. Although I haven't made an erroneous identification, I have pushed too far into what I later considered to be a gray area of sufficiency that I should have stayed away from. Since then I have seen examples of other high profile "identifications" that have also pushed way too far into this area where in fact there isn't sufficient quality/quantity to disprove the claim of "identification"... but there isn't enough there to justify it either.

It is impossible to look into this variety of non-standard scenarios and attempt to further break them down into acceptable / unacceptable, or major / minor. SWGFAST has taken the approach that anything other than unanimity deserves at least a quality review. And in defining quality review, they allow for what most would consider the bare bones - review the documentation (which anyone would do anyway), re-examination (which would occur anyway), Determination of a conclusion to report (which would also naturally occur), determination of the seriousness and corrective action if appropriate, and Determination of the root cause of the conflicting conclusions. For the simplest case, the root cause might simply be the inexperience of the inconclusive examiner. For difficult cases, establishment of the root cause might be extremely time consuming and center on specific distortions or similarities within the impressions (Mayfield comes to mind), inadequacy of the agency's training program, failing eyesight or expired eyewear prescriptions, or any host of other things.

Having been in a supervisory position, I appreciated knowing about non-standard issues. If two examiners worked something out amongst themselves without my involvement I considered that fine, as long as I knew about it. SWGFAST states that each element of the quality review must be documented. This gives the administrator the information or duty to find the information necessary to make an informed decision about corrective action. Mind you, there is no guidance on corrective action - just that it should be considered and administered as deemed appropriate by the supervisor or agency in that particular case.

In one of your examples, you mention Examiner 1 excluding, the verifier finding it and taking it back to Examiner 1, who subsequently sees it and agrees with the ID. As a supervisor, I consider each one of the SWGFAST elements important to see noted in such a case. I would definitely be interested in Examiner #1's thoughts on the cause of the miss, how seriously they took it, etc. I would also be interested in the reviewer's thoughts on whether corrective action was necessary, how serious they thought it was, etc. Over time, trends within these "notes" (which are really QA documentation) could potentially lead the identification of root causes not previously considered, and could prompt appropriate corrective action that would have otherwise been overlooked.

Documentation of the seriousness of the situation also addresses your last scenario involving sustained conflicting conclusions. Both examiners would probably rate more serious the scenario where they remained conflicted than where they ended up agreeing. Of course each examiner would document differently the conclusion they thought should be reported, so identification of this scenario would be pretty obvious if the agency required each examiner to complete and document a short quality review.

I am also unfamiliar with ASCLD/LAB views, but if this issue is like most others, they simply look at your policies and establish whether you follow them. If you use more than one word in your policies and procedures to define non-standard results, then you should have clearly defined documentation, quality review, and corrective actions for each one. I think the ASCLD/LAB supervisor you spoke with personally considered less (or no) documentation required when an inconclusive determination was involved. But the personal consideration of an ASCLD/LAB supervisor is very different from what they would require of your agency when assessing whether your policies and procedures are being followed. That same inspector upon seeing your definition is supposed to grade you based on that, not his/her preferences.

I also think that decisions involving inconclusive determinations can be abused by employees if clear policies are not in place. I have heard of examiners taking the easy way out and employers having no recourse due to the inadequacy of their policies and procedures in this area. If everything is set up correctly, I think the SWGFAST model provides for the identification of trends necessary to support corrective action up to and including disciplinary action and termination. This brings up the 3 D's... documentation, documentation, and documentation.

Could anyone share a Quality Review Checksheet for completion by examiners involved in a non-unanimous style "conflict"?

(to respond to the Detail topic, visit the forum and join in the discussion!)


KEPT - Keeping Examiners Prepared for Testimony - #25
Accreditation - Organizations
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 – Accreditation:

Are you accredited?


Possible Answers:

a)      No

b)      Yes, by ASCLD

c)      Yes, by ASCLD/LAB

d)     Yes, we’re accredited by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)

e)      Yes, we’re accredited by International Standards Organization (ISO)



Using acronyms is always discouraged because the people you’re trying to educate (the courts) don’t know what these acronyms stand for.

Answer a:  Stating that your lab isn’t accredited may be the correct answer but it leaves the courts feeling like you aren’t meeting the responsibilities that you should be meeting.  If your lab isn’t accredited but you feel that it is meeting the responsibilities that it should then perhaps you could say, “No, my lab isn’t accredited but we do have quality assurance measure in place and we follow the guidelines set by SWGFAST (The Scientific Working Group for Friction Ridge Analysis, Study, and Technology)”.

Answers b and c: ASCLD/LAB is one of the organizations that offer accreditation to agencies.  If you are accredited by ASCLD/LAB you should use the complete name in court, American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors / Laboratory Accreditation Board.  Forensic Quality Services (FQS) is another company that accredits forensic laboratories.  It should be noted that ASCLD is different than ASCLD/LAB.  ASCLD does not accredit agencies.

Answers d:  ASCLD/LAB has two accreditation programs, Legacy and International. The ASCLD/LAB International program and the FQS program both adhere to the ISO standards, but ISO doesn’t directly accredit laboratories. 

Answer e: ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization.  Stating the wrong words for an acronym will lower the value of your entire testimony.


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Have a GREAT week!