Breaking NEWz you can UzE...
compiled by Jon Stimac
Fingerprints Could Join
Fight Against Identity Theft -
TACOMA NEWS TRIBUNE, WA -
Mar 6, 2004 ...officials have approved
bills that would let drivers submit a fingerprint to help protect
against identity theft...
Print Program Failings Faulted
- CBS NEWS
- Mar 2, 2004 ...delays in the
integration of FBI fingerprint files with databases used by the
Border Patrol may leave the US vulnerable...
Grocery Chain to Offer Paying with
MIAMI HERALD, FL - Mar 2, 2004
...new technology will allow customers to pay for
their groceries at checkout with one touch of the finger...
Suspect Fingered: Break
in Old Bank Robbery -
CALGARY SUN, CANADA - Mar 2, 2004
...AFIS used to help solve the 15-year old crime...
Last week, we looked at another article on digital imaging
challenges. This week, we hear from Kathy Saviers regarding Deferred
Practical Solutions or Sloppy Casework?
Recently, I posted a question on the CLPEX.com forum asking when or if it would
be appropriate to stop working on a case when several latent print
identifications were effected. In my example, I had identified one suspect 15
times on a recovered stolen vehicle and 5 more times on a paper sack inside the
vehicle. There were 4 latent prints that I excluded from this suspect and had
searched these 4 latent prints through AFIS with no hits. I didn’t have victim
elimination prints. There were additional latent prints on the vehicle and the
paper sack, but they were partial palm prints (I had no rolled palms on the
suspect) or smaller impressions that were identifiable but would take much
longer to find and identify.
Have I done adequate work for the successful prosecution of the case?
Can I stop working on it, deferring the remaining examinations until or in case
they become important to the case?
Do others consider it “sloppy casework” when comparisons are not totally
finished and decisions are not made (identify, exclude, insufficient) on every
piece of friction ridge skin impression?
Does my agency require that I make a decision on every impression I keep?
If I “miss” an identification, will my agency consider it a “mark” against me?
Are deferred examinations a practical method to provide sufficient information
to the investigator and/or prosecutor in a timely manner to proceed with the
case yet allowing me to work on other cases to serve the next customer?
In an effort to reduce backlog by doing deferred examinations, am I sacrificing
the quality of my casework to increase my quantity of casework?
If I don’t have the time to do it right today, will I have the time to do it
In these times of tight budgets, shortages of personnel and increasing casework,
the manner in which casework is done is likely to be re-examined and adjustments
are likely to be considered. One option is to compare latent print evidence in a
case and once a few identifications on significant areas or on certain items of
evidence have been effected, to defer additional work on the case.
If an agency does have a policy of deferred examinations, all of these questions
have to be answered. There has to be coordination, cooperation and understanding
between the examiner, the case investigator and the prosecutor. Part of the
policy should include the types of crime. For example, it might be acceptable to
defer further examinations of any additional latent prints on a recovered stolen
vehicle or a residential burglary after identifying the suspect once or twice
inside the vehicle or inside the residence. That standard might not acceptable
on a robbery, sexual assault or homicide. Plus it might be defined that any
number of identifications to the same person on the same item beyond 2 or 4 or
(specify number) is redundant and unnecessary, so stop working on this case and
move on to the next one.
My original question had to do with excessive identifications. After I
identified the suspect fifteen times on the vehicle, can I stop? I did this many
before stopping because it placed the suspect touching the driver’s door and
window, the passenger’s door and window, the hood and the trunk. All of these
identifications were on the outside of the vehicle, however. My logic for taking
the time to identify all of those latent prints was to demonstrate all the
different locations on the vehicle touched by the suspect to prevent any defense
arguments of “my client was walking past this car in a parking lot and leaned on
the hood to tie his shoe.” The average person walking through a parking lot
would not have touched the car in all of these locations. Also, the positions of
some of the latent prints on the doors and windows were indicative of someone
opening or closing the door. But, on this case, I also processed a bottle of
beer (no prints) and the paper sack it was in. These items were inside the
vehicle. I identified the suspect five times on the paper sack. From both the
car and the paper sack, I suppose I could have taken the time to compare more
latent prints to this suspect, but the question arose in my mind… what do others
think about whether I had done enough on this type of case?
One of the responses to the forum discussion asked if I had four latent prints
and identified two to the suspect, would I stop? I am not sure that I would for
such a low number. I would probably complete the examinations on all four latent
prints. But, my original question demonstrates the other side of the issue…
could I stop after fifteen identifications because there were so many more
impressions to look at? Another person commented that they only make one latent
print identification and stop. I don’t know that I would feel totally
comfortable giving my investigators only one identification when I could give
them three or four on one suspect. They seem to feel that a couple of latent
prints identifications are more impressive when submitting the case to the Grand
My agency doesn’t have a policy requiring that I make a determination on every
friction ridge skin impression or that, if I miss an identification, I will be
in trouble and sent to re-training. They value a reasonable effort to produce
sufficient results on evidence for successful Grand Jury indictments in a timely
manner. From the scientific community standpoint, reporting of this nature
reflects that additional latent prints are present that haven’t been compared.
This helps to explain that the comparisons have been stopped and that the
identifications actually haven’t been missed, but, rather, they haven’t been
I am grateful for the suggestion of using the term of “deferred examination.” It
has a scientific tone to it and it seems a very reasonable method to quickly
turnover adequate casework results in a timely manner towards the successful
prosecution of a case. Because of these questions and discussion, I have decided
on my own personal position. I would rather get a couple of latent print
identifications per case on three cases and defer the rest of the examinations
to get those cases through Grand Jury this week, than spend three or four extra
days per case to look at every friction ridge skin impression to make a
determination and only get one case through Grand Jury this week. Then, if the
defendant goes to trial, which is infrequent here, I can re-examine the rest of
the latent prints at a later time if the prosecutor feels it is necessary to the
successful prosecution of the case.
To discuss this Weekly Detail, log on to the CLPEX.com
message board: (http://www.clpex.com/phpBB/viewforum.php?f=2)
More formal latent print discussions are available at
Tips for sharper proofreading
It's vital to proofread all written communication, yet few people take the time
they need to properly review a document. Use these tips to improve your
1. Reduce interruptions. When you're proofreading, close
your door, find a quiet office or use an empty conference room.
2. Assume that you will find mistakes. It's easier to find
something if you're looking for it.
3. Search for only one kind of error at a time. First, look
for spelling errors; the second time through search for punctuation problems;
then focus on subject-verb agreement and so on.
4. Take breaks. Proofing can be tiring and tedious. If
you don't take a break, a mistake is likely to slip through.
5. Check the details. Verify dates, times, days, numbers and
addresses. Call phone numbers to ensure their accuracy and pay particular
attention to extensions. When checking Web site addresses, go to the site
and make sure the referenced information is there.
6. Plan for the future. No matter how careful you are,
there's always the chance that mistakes will slip through. If something
gets by you, focus on preventing it the next time. Make notes on the types
of mistakes that got through the proofreading net, and keep a watchful eye for
them in the future.
-From the Editors of Communication Briefings, December 2003,
UPDATES ON CLPEX.com
Added 7 new images to the SmileyFiles
Updated the Newzroom
Updated the guestbook (deleted a bunch of spam-type posts)
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Until next Monday morning, don't work too hard or too little.
Have a GREAT week!