T H E
D E T A I L
Monday, June 30, 2003
BREAKING NEWz you can
compiled by Jon Stimac
System Keeps Criminals in Jail More Easily - THE
PRESS OF ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - June 28, 2003 ...lag
time with matching fingerprints has always been a thorn in the side of
most law enforcement officials..
Fingerprinted at School - BBC
NEWS UK - June 25, 2003
...pupils at this UK school have all
had their fingerprints taken, even though none of them are in trouble with
Usable Fingerprints on Gun That Killed Cop - THE
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, IL - June
25, 2003 ...an
expert with the ISP testified there were no usable fingerprints on the gun
used in the fatal shooting of Chicago Officer...
of More Fingerprint Errors - THE
GLASGOW HERALD, UK - June 24,
of a police officer wrongly accused of leaving her fingerprints at a
murder scene claimed the same miscarriage of justice could happen again...
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
Pat Wertheim's famous "Advanced Ridgeology Comparison Techniques"
course is available for in-service training or a division sponsored training
activity in September, 2003. If your Department would like to host the class for
in-service training for your examiners and maybe some from surrounding agencies,
or if your State Division of the IAI or other association would like to sponsor
the course as a service to members or as a fundraiser, please contact Pat at
Last week, we looked at a possible latent print grading scheme. I have had
exciting feedback both via e-mail and on the message board. I would like
to hear more constructive criticism or concern if anyone has any. Please
e-mail me with any suggestions or ideas for improvement of this idea.
Again, the categories were: quantity, clarity, grayscale, grayscale shift, and
surface difficulty. One excellent suggestion was to use a grading scheme
of 1-9 to keep each integer to 1 digit long. Another suggestion was to
include pattern type. (r,l,a,w) All the category scores could be added
together for a "difficulty" rating of a latent print, low being the
most difficult. To do this, the grayscale shift would have to be
calculated differently than I proposed, but this could probably be figured
out. I think a public database of images, graded by several examiners and
averaged out, would be beneficial for benchmarks, validation studies, training,
etc. We could possibly even have a dynamic database that everyone could
contribute images into, grade, and get images out of. But first things
first... If anyone had any additional thoughts on the grading scheme, e-mail me
or post on the message board.
week, Alice Maceo brings us some thoughts on an exciting possibility for
the next IAI conference in St. Louis, MO, 2004.
For those speaking at the IAI Educational Conference this year, there was an interesting
proposal late in the game: put web-cameras in the lecture rooms in Ottawa so that members could log on and view the presentations. Since the tragic events of 9/11, Homeland Security has tightened already stressed department budgets. Often times the first expenses cut by departments involve travel and outside training. For many people who valiantly fund their own training expenses, the current state of the economy has them making the same cuts in their personal budgets. With this in mind, particularly since the ABFDE Daubert Symposium was recently cancelled due to low registration, it seemed a natural fit to provide a low-cost mechanism to share at least some of the information presented at the IAI Educational Conference with non-attending IAI members. Unfortunately, the virtual conference idea was not received as well as was hoped. With such short notice to the
presenters and organizers, the immediate response was concern, enough concern that the idea was filed away, for now.
Several issues might come up when this idea is proposed next year. The
purpose of the Weekly Detail is to promote information, thought, and discussion, so let's
look at some of these possible issues:
1) Fear of addressing an unknowingly large audience.
Speaking in front of a group of people (particularly peers) is always a little unnerving.
But if possible, why not share what you have to say with 500 or 5000? Getting on the stage is the hard part, once you begin the number of faces staring back becomes
irrelevant. Many are able to completely ignore the lens and address the
audience as though it were not being broadcast at all.
2) Fear of addressing the “wrong” audience (e.g. critics).
If the information should not be shared with potential detractors, why should it
be shared with peers? Knowledge is power for both sides and there shouldn’t be any dirty laundry lurking in the closet. Besides, if they are members of the IAI, they may already be in your
3) The speaker also presents the topic at fee-based seminars, and does not want copies of the material on the loose.
Well, what are we in this for? The IAI is a forum to share our knowledge with our professional community. It is
also an opportunity to see what is currently happening in the field. What better way to market yourself than to give a taste of what you have to offer in a classroom
setting, and follow through with a more in-depth course presented throughout the
4) The material is sensitive and should not be available on-line.
There must be ways to engineer controls into the presentations to allow the web-cam visual to be turned off if sensitive imagery is being displayed. If the information is too sensitive to allow IAI members on-line to hear, should it be presented at a conference?
5) Low future conference attendance because departments want to save the travel expenses.
Web-cam coverage would be pretty much limited to the lectures. It would be difficult to participate in a workshop from afar. The workshops have so much to offer for hands-on learning that it would still compel attendance. The poster presentations and vendor booths would still draw attendees. Last, but certainly not least, the
networking aspect would still be one of the valuable aspects to physical
Although a new idea for the IAI, imagine how many more people could be reached? How much more knowledge could be shared? Just imagine a conference schedule published with a camera symbol next to the lectures offered on-line! If, as a presenter, you weren’t willing to be available on-line, you could certainly decline. Are there going to be a few bumps along the way? Well sure, there always
are when change occurs.
The benefits to the professional community seem to far outweigh risks. For many IAI members, a virtual conference may be their only means of ever attending since they don’t have available departmental or personal funds. By allowing on-line access to at least a portion of the conference, the knowledge could be shared tenfold.
Perhaps the IAI will reconsider online broadcasts for the American Centennial
conference in St Louis. The IAI membership must let the IAI conference organizers know that there is support for a virtual conference and the IAI conference organizers must diligently address speakers’ concerns.
The possibility of online conference broadcasts offer a tremendous opportunity for the
forensic community to grow together. Let's try not to get caught up in the
negative aspects, rather let's work together to turn this exciting possibility
into a 21st century reality.
To discuss your thoughts on this issue, log on to the CLPEX.com
board : (http://www.clpex.com/phpBB/viewforum.php?f=2)
And as usual, the onin.com forum
(http://onin.com/fp/wwwbd/) is also available for more formal latent
For discussions with an international flair, check out Dave Charlton's forum at:
are three basic patterns used to classify fingerprints - the Arc, the Loop and
the Whorl. The easiest way to picture them, is to imagine that you're looking at
a map with contour lines, to show the hills and valleys - like a military map or
a bushwalker's map. An 'arc' is a gentle rise, a 'loop' is a ridge, while a
'whorl' is a solitary hill or peak.
Thank you to Laura Watts for submitting an interesting newspaper article,
which also contained this week's Funny Fingerprint Find.
Feel free to pass The Detail along to other examiners. This is a free
newsletter FOR latent print examiners, BY latent print examiners. There are no
copyrights on The Detail, and the website is open for all to visit.
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Until next Monday morning, don't work too hard or too little.
Have a GREAT week!