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Monday, November 2, 2009
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.
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Breaking NEWz you can UzE...
by Stephanie Potter

by Stephanie Potter

Legislative aide busted by funky fish tank
The Hudson Reporter 10-29-09
$100000 was hidden in a fishtank, from which officers obtained fingerprints. Middlesex County sheriff's officers arrested Ekow Yankey, 33, of New Brunswick ...


DNA solves 1991 St. Pete slaying, but suspect is now dead
Suncoast News 10-29-09
Since then, Williams' fingerprints have also been tied to the crime. On Sept. 6, 2007, Williams and Vashion Manning were riding bicycles away from a ...


Burglar charged
Newport Independent 10-29-09
The affidavit states that the suspect, which had been identified by latent finger prints in mid-May, had taken approximately $3500 from the residential ...


Jurors in Lemaricus Davidson torture-slaying trial unafraid to press for truth
Knoxville News Sentinel 11-01-09
The panel asked Knoxville Police Department fingerprint experts if they were "100 percent sure" it was Davidson's prints on the couple's belongings and ...

Solving crimes with simply the snap of a finger
Washington Post 10-25-09
Alexandria police, who had a gadget straight out of a "CSI" spinoff, got to the cemetery with the device, scanned the dead man's fingers and identified him within three minutes.

Recent CLPEX Posting Activity

news article: "McKie inquiry evidence to start"
by Identify » Tue Jun 02, 2009
Last post by Big Wullie View the latest post
Sun Nov 01, 2009

Joint Forensic Association Meeting
by Kasey Wertheim » Mon Oct 26, 2009
Last post by Kasey Wertheim View the latest post
Sun Nov 01, 2009 10:49 am

A new "expert" that we have to deal with
by ioan_truta » Fri Oct 23, 2009
Last post by Alan C View the latest post
Sat Oct 31, 2009 11:21 am

The Importance of Real-Time AFIS QC'ing
by josher89 » Tue Oct 20, 2009
Last post by josher89 View the latest post
Wed Oct 28, 2009 10:33 am

by josher89 » Tue Dec 18, 2007 5:35 am
Last post by josher89 View the latest post
Wed Oct 28, 2009

Use of the word "suspect" on evidence submission form
by NYSLPE » Thu Oct 22, 2009
Last post by NYSLPE View the latest post
Tue Oct 27, 2009

Fingerprint examiner charged with perjury
by Ann Horsman » Mon Oct 26, 2009
Last post by kevin View the latest post
Tue Oct 27, 2009

Forensic opening - Ontario, Ca
by jpadilla5 » Sun Oct 18, 2009
Last post by jpadilla5 View the latest post
Sun Oct 25, 2009 10:39 am

My story of the week
by Michele » Mon Aug 31, 2009
Last post by Kasey Wertheim View the latest post
Sun Oct 25, 2009


Updated the Detail archives


George Reis has started a blog on forensic imaging: http://www.imagingforensics.com/blog


we looked at draft legislation from the Innocence Project regarding a forensic science commission.


John Black brings us a survey regarding the extent to which agencies conduct verification.

I am doing some preliminary research regarding the degree of verification that is performed in the latent print community.  As I travel around the country, it seems that nearly every agency is performing verifications on 100% of reported identifications.  Exclusion, inconclusive and no value decisions are not being verified as a matter of course.  Some agencies will perform verifications on a percentage (something less than 100%) of conclusions other than identifications.  Some will verify all conclusions in only ‘major cases.’  However, some agencies are verifying all conclusion decisions in all cases.


With that brief background, I pose the following questions:


1.                   What percentage of identifications does your agency verify?

2.                   What percentage of exclusions does your agency verify?   

3.                   What percentage of inconclusives does your agency verify?

4.                   What percentage of ‘no value’ conclusions does your agency verify?

5.                   Do you review actual items of evidence that were processed by the initial examiner?

6.                   Do you verify all ‘non-match’ respondents from AFIS searches?

7.                   What are the reasons for not performing verifications on all conclusion decisions?  Please be specific.

8.                   Do you agree with the concept of 100% verification?  Why or why not?  Please be specific.

9.                   How many latent print examiners does your agency employ?

10.               What is the average caseload per month for each examiner?



Throughout my career as a latent print examiner, I have had the privilege to work in an environment where all conclusions are verified.  It has been my experience that it is not erroneous identifications that comprise the bulk of errors, but rather erroneous exclusions, erroneous inconclusives and incorrect ‘no value’ decisions.  Therefore, is there a need for 100% verification?


I would also like to suggest that because of the way the science of fingerprints is currently practiced, we will never be able to accurately determine an error rate.  The closest we can come is in establishing an error rate for erroneous identifications, since 100% of identifications are subject to the verification phase.  If that is all the courts are concerned with then perhaps we will be able to answer the question.  However, if the concerns regarding error rate are deeper then we will likely fail in that determination.


What could likely be more important in the courtroom are the error rates for both you and your agency.  It seems that this would perhaps be more relevant and significant for the courts than how the science performs as a whole, although the latter would obviously be preferable.  The problem is that most examiners don’t know their error rates, let alone those for their agencies, because they are not performing the verification phase on all conclusions.  Can we, or should we, continue in this manner? 


My intent is to publish the results of this research project in the Journal of Forensic Identification, as well as to present them at the IAI Conference in Spokane next year.  Numerous agencies have already responded and I am truly grateful.  I am fully aware that case backlogs are high and that resources are low, but I would appreciate it if you would find time to participate.   Please email your responses to johnb@ronsmithandassociates.com with the subject of ‘Verification Research.’


Thank you.


John P. Black, CLPE, CFWE, CSCSA

Senior Consultant/Quality Manager

Ron Smith and Associates, Inc.



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

Have a GREAT week!

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