T H E
D E T A I L
Monday, November 11, 2002
BREAKING NEWz you can
compiled by Jon Stimac
Attack Site Lead to Arrest of Florida Teen -
PALM BEACH POST
- Nov. 6, 2002
matched a fingerprint and palm print to teen...
U.S. Wants Prints Of Muslim Visitors -
WASHINGTON POST - Nov. 7, 2002
from five Muslim countries who are temporarily residing in the US to be
fingerprinted and photographed...
Lawyer: Teen's Prints on Sniper Gun -
BALTIMORE SUN - Nov. 8, 2002
year-old John Lee Malvo's fingerprints were the only ones found on the rifle
used in the sniper attacks...
Police Link Man to ATM Abductions
During the Summer - BALTIMORE SUN
- Nov. 9, 2002
linked suspect to a July abduction of a walking woman...
Good morning via the "Detail,"
a weekly e-mail newsletter that greets latent print examiners around the globe
every Monday morning. 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.
There are a couple of latent-print related items from Joe Polski's Monthly IAI
IAI Website Event Calendar – ATTN Divisions
Last month I mentioned that calendar is now available on the IAI’s website on
the “Division” page. That calendar lists the time and place of all future IAI
division meetings. At last summer’s conference in Las Vegas, during the annual
breakfast for division secretaries, presidents and regional representatives,
strong interest in creating such a “master calendar” was voiced. IAI Webmaster
Jim Arend has added the calendar to the site and all that’s needed is for the
divisions to contact Jim with their meeting/conference information. He’ll be
glad to list it. Please contact him directly at the following e-mail address:
2003 Conference –
It is not too early to begin to make plans for the
2003 Ottawa Conference. The dates for the conference are July 6-12, 2003. The
main conference hotel is the Westin in Ottawa. If you know you will attend,
it’s not too early to make reservations at the Westin. The rate is $169
Canadian and the phone number for reservations is (613) 560-7000. Please
remember that all prices are in Canadian dollars currently worth about $.66
cents of a US dollar. In other words, a hotel rate of $169 Canadian is about
If you would like to make a presentation at the conference, please contact
Educational Program Planner Jim Gettemy at the following e-mail address:
You will also find a link on the IAI’s Home Page (theiai.org) to an electronic
abstract submission form. That form can be completed on-line and submitted
directly to Jim. After submission of your abstract, Jim will get back to you
with more information.
Last week, we reviewed "myth # 8" from the
10 myths of science
website regarding objectivity. This week, Steve Howard brings more on the
concept of paradigms in latent print work as he expands on a recent message
The Business of Paradigms
would just like to offer a comment or two on the interesting article in this
week's Detail concerning paradigms.
Not too many years ago, I had never even heard of the word before, let alone
able to pronounce it properly! 20c right? (a pair-a-dimes?)
Since then, I have been intrigued by the concept, which really began after I saw
an interesting video entitled "The Business of Paradigms". It was presented by
Joel Barker, a self-proclaimed futurist. Although dated now, in it, he makes
reference to Thomas Kuhn and his work and talks about paradigms in the business
world and how the folks who work in a particular field can sometimes be blinded
to the changes that may be occurring all around them. One example focused on the
Swiss watchmakers who had been producing precision timepieces for decades and
spoke of their reluctance to embrace a new idea that there might be another way
to tell time. Enter Seiko and the digital revolution! Ironically Seiko had
approached the Swiss watchmakers with the idea first.
There are some other excellent examples in the video as well as some neat
examples of how the brain can be fooled into thinking it sees something that’s
not what it appears to be. (imaginary points, anyone?) However, the theme of it
fits nicely in with the suggestions made in this week's Detail article. Kasey
asks how this relates to what we do. Does it or doesn’t it? My belief is that it
does without doubt. We are already seeing it in Daubert. For almost a hundred
years, we had been making fingerprint identifications
much the same way and had enjoyed presenting that evidence in court with little
or no challenge. Nowadays of course, we have to not only understand the
scientific process and how it is applied, but also
to defend it and articulate it
a court of law. In a nutshell, we now have to be more accountable for what we
do. That in itself, is the paradigm shift within our own profession. To quote
Joel Barker, “When a paradigm shifts……everything goes back to zero”. That means
we have to deal with a new way of thinking about our profession, our evidence,
and the public perception of what it all means, and importantly, be competent to
meet these new challenges. If we choose to ignore them, it’ll be at our own
Kasey also asked what are some examples in latent prints. Well, let’s
this question. How often have we had a
which we just cannot identify. We may have a nice area of detail but we’ve
checked every suspect from here to there and still no ident. Barring the
obvious, does the average examiner automatically think footprint? Probably not.
because latent footprints are simply not that common. In a way, it’s easy to see
how we unknowingly can become conditioned to see what we expect to see;
interpret something believing it to be what we think it is to the exclusion of
all else. After all, we have our experience to back us up don’t we? By doing
this, we are insulating ourselves from other ideas that may run counter to our
own. This is our own paradigm at work.
Barker also states that often the best people to evaluate a problem are those on
the fringes, who are detached from any direct involvement and who are not bound
by any vested interest or mandate. In a sense, they have a more objective
approach to a problem, and are better suited to see the proverbial forest
through the trees. They are able to view a problem or concept devoid of the
mental filters that stakeholders routinely apply through their experience or
expectations of that problem. So
for example, it might be quite possible for
environmentalist with an interest in engines
design a more
environmentally friendly fuel-efficient engine than an automotive engineer.
In our profession, we are facing increasing calls for more testing and
validation of our scientific method from judges, defence lawyers, and given the
recent high profile erroneous identifications, the media and public too.
of those voices might argue that this all should come from a more independent
source outside of our discipline. While this might be a valid point,
most examiners would argue
anyone not professionally trained in our discipline simply would not be
qualified to do that kind of validation testing.
Such a study would probably be written
off to poor
science. But could there be someone out there who is competent to
undertake such a project,
but who isn’t a trained examiner? (put you hand down Simon!)
maybe not. What we do know is that our paradigm tells us there couldn’t possibly
be, so we seem to
automatically dismiss the idea.
Perhaps steadfast adherence to the
paradigm does have its advantages, as stated in the article….
“Kuhn would argue that the blinders
created by allegiance to the paradigm help keep scientists on track. His review
of the history of science demonstrates that paradigms are responsible for far
more successes in science than delays”.
However, with the judicial system not
about to subscribe to that philosophy any time soon, it is incumbent upon us all
to accept that we are all back at zero and go from there.
To discuss this week's Detail, visit the informal CLPEX.com
Also on the message board is a request from Leanne Gray of the Illinois State
I work with Dave Grieve and thought that you or your weekly readers might
be able to help me out. Since the snipers were discovered by using the INS
AFIS system, I have had numerous requests asking how many federal agencies
have AFIS systems. I am familiar with IAFIS. Obviously, INS has an AFIS
system. Are you aware of any other?
Thanks in advance for any light you can shine on this topic.
M. Leanne Gray
Acting Training Coordinator - Latent Fingerprints
Rockford Forensic Science Laboratory
Visit the Detail
board to respond, or to view responses to Leanne's question.
As usual, the onin.com forum
(http://onin.com/fp/wwwbd/) is also available for more formal latent
CLPEX.com this week...
Extended the dates for the California Adobe Photoshop course from December to
April to let more examiners in on the action... details will be posted on the
Photoshop Training page soon.
Updated the Detail Archives
Updated the Newzroom
Feel free to pass The Detail along to other examiners. This is
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Until next Monday morning, don't work too hard or too little.
Have a GREAT week!