UPDATES ON CLPEX.com
Updated the Fingerprint Interest Group web page with FIG #
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?
we reviewed letters to the editor and responses
on confirmation bias and other cognitive issues published recently in
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
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
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
Keeping Examiners Prepared for Testimony - #3
Evaluation / Sufficiency
- How Much is Enough?
by Michele Triplett, King County
Disclaimer: The intent
of this is to provide thought provoking discussion. No claims of accuracy
Question Ė Sufficiency:
How do you know when you have enough to establish an
Our office uses a point standard of 10 level 2 details.
If a conclusion can be verified then sufficiency exists.
Itís a mental process and I know it when I see it.
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.
When you move from looking for consistent characteristics between the
images to predicting that characteristics will be consistent then youíve
Sufficiency is when you reach a point where a rational educated
person doing a thorough examination would arrive at the same conclusion.
You have a sufficient amount of information when you have enough to
hold up to the scrutiny of others.
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
Friction ridge individualization is established through the agreement
of friction ridge formations, in sequence, having sufficient uniqueness to
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
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
Answer i: This is the standard of what is
needed for an individualization but it doesnít state how much is needed.
Feel free to pass The Detail along to other
examiners. This is a free newsletter FOR latent print examiners, BY
latent print examiners.
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