Breaking NEWz you can UzE...
compiled by Jon Stimac
Man's Missing Hands Cause Concern –
GALVESTON DAILY NEWS, TX - June 20, 2004
...hands were removed and sent away to
fingerprint experts, a common practice utilized by medical
Departing Grandmother Leaves No Fingerprints –
PITTSBURGH POST GAZETTE, PA - June 16, 2004
...fingerprint system continues to
reject an 83-year-old's inked prints, affecting her move to
E-Mail to ID Criminals in Minutes – BBC
- June 15, 2004
...fingerprints found at the crime
scene will be fed back to police headquarters within minutes for
Fingerprinting Goes Digital –
BURLINGTON HAWKEYE, IA - June 14, 2004
...system checks and rechecks prints
to make sure they are classifiable...
QUESTION from Ed Delery:
Has anyone done a study to compare the number of 'fingerprint' rolls to
the percentage of 'no service', 'attempts with negative results', and 'attempts
with positive results'? Based on these statistics, the number of 'Not Suitable
for Ident' versus 'Info/Ques/AFIS' impressions. In other words, if the total
number of potential fingerprint rolls is 100, what percentage is 'No Service
Provided', 'Attempt Processing - Neg Results', and 'Attempt Processing - Pos
Results'? Of the 'Attempt Pos', how many impressions were deemed: 'Not Suitable
for Ident' and how many were deemed other than 'Not Suitable for Ident (Info/Ques/AFIS)'?
Of the 'Info/Ques/AFIS', how many were actually identified to a victim or
perpetrator? How many were considered high enough quality capable of being
entered and searched in a computer database? How many remain in limbo because
the searched database does not have a known reference print or a searchable palm
database. How many were identified by a comparison between the unknown latent
and a suspect's '10 print' card? Also, of the impressions deemed 'Info/Ques/AFIS',
what is the percentage of first finger joint versus second and third finger
joint and palmar? The reason I'm asking this question is to determine how many
impressions we are not capable of running through a searchable database (we
don't have AFIX for palms). Finally, does anyone know of a 'white paper' report
addressing these questions? If a report does exist, I would be very interested
in reviewing the findings.
If you have any information that you wold like to share, you may reach me at: Ed
New Orleans Police Department Crime Lab
2932 Tulane Avenue
New Orleans, La. 70119
(504) 826-1440 Office
(504) 826-1451 fax
Last week, Steve Everist brought us a summary of last week's
National Public Radio broadcast regarding the Mayfield case and the reliability
of fingerprint evidence. This week, Craig Coppock shares some thoughts
regarding objectivity in the comparison process. Some would like to see
completely objective verification... just based on two images and no insight
regarding the conclusion reached. As you read Craig's article (and that
isn't necessarily what he is saying in this article) be thinking about this
concept and how you feel about it. I would like to see some discussion on
the CLPEX message board regarding practical aspects of this and how you feel
about how it would be received.
Circumstantial Evidence and Friction Skin Identification
The sole purpose of friction skin identification is to identify the
person who made the impression. It is never up to the print examiner to infer
innocence or guilt from the individualization of a subject. That is the
responsibility of the case investigators, prosecutor, and ultimately, the jury.
Accordingly, the print examiner must remain objective in the goal of
individualization. It must also be said that the examiner must understand
the value and relevancy of the information they analyze. The analysis process
is the induction process. This process has two main goals. First is
prediction. Prediction is the expected results from information not yet
analyzed. For fingerprint identification the various levels of detail would be
predictable in their comparative spatial relationships between the exemplars and
an unknown sourced impression. Secondly, direct comparisons with observations
can be made.  The information has to be comparable in some manner in order
to have meaning.  With this goal in mind, we can see that most other forms
of evidence are not relevant to the goal of individualization.
“The evaluation of fingerprint evidence…. Is a very complex issue…”
It is argued by some that “The underlying population from which the suspect has
to be considered as being selected has been argued as being that of the whole
world (Kingston, 1964). However, Stoney and Thornton (1986) argued that it is
rarely the case that a suspect would be chosen purely on the basis of
fingerprint evidence. Normally, there would have been a small group of suspects
which would have been isolated from the world population on the basis of other
evidence. … The fingerprint evidence has then to be considered relative to this
small group only.”  With the advent of the Automated Fingerprint
Identification System (AFIS) some cases do indeed cross international lines.
However, the key point is to carefully consider what the value and relevancy of
the circumstantial evidence may be in the case and how that evidence can
incorrectly influence your examination of the friction skin evidence.
Circumstantial evidence: A fact or circumstance from which one may
infer another fact at issue. Circumstantial evidence can include such issues as
Motive, Opportunity, and Associative Evidence.  Confirmation bias is one of
the influences that can often be attributed to a fundamental lack of
comprehension regarding the value and relevancy of the information available for
analysis. Friction skin individualization should be an evaluation of the print
evidence itself, without bias from other information sources. For example,
considering that a subject has a history of burglary does not attribute any
validity to the fact that the suspect has been identified as having left
impressions on a window of a burglarized house! Additional supporting
information must be present before this particular “identifying information” can
prove to be of circumstantial value, even though it should not be considered in
validating the individualization itself. This additional information may
include that fact that the subject has no legitimate reason or lawful access to
the location, and or has a motive for the particular act.
information must be properly supported in order to be considered as authenticate
evidence. Otherwise, it should be consider simply as “case information.”
Latent print examiners are constantly faced with a variety of miscellaneous case
information relating to a particular individualization. It is paramount that
this extraneous information not be evaluated incorrectly. The information of
religion, race, creed, and left-handedness, are examples that are so broad by
themselves they cannot support any inference. Other singular examples include
sex, ideologies, and favorite brand of automobile. The point is that these
topics are so general they cannot support a fact or circumstance from which one
may infer another fact at issue!
Latent print examiners must deal with these case knowledge issues
each day. Confirmation bias can result from the lack of informational
comprehension regarding these issues. The concept of circumstantial evidence
would only be applicable toward the investigation of the crime itself, not
toward the support of individual components of an investigation, such as
friction skin individualization. Thus, print examiners should refrain from
considering circumstantial case evidence and other unsupportable case
information until the verification process has been completed. This,
information should not be forwarded to the examiner trusted with the 2nd
ACE hypothesis (verification). It is common knowledge that witnesses can be
influenced (confirmation bias) by hearing case supporting knowledge whether that
knowledge is accurate or not. Since the true goal of individualization is
accurate information, we should make an unmatched effort to control
counter-productive negative influences. General case information and
circumstantial evidence do not follow the established inductive process relevant
to individualization. They do not predict and allow for comparison. Therefore,
they must not be a consideration in the individualization process.
Craig A. Coppock CLPE
June 2, 2004
1. Holland, J; Holyoak, K; Nisbett, R;
Thagard, P;1986 Induction: Processes of Inference,
Learning, and Discovery.
MIT, Cambridge p. 347
2. Coppock, Craig ; 2004 A Detailed Look At Induction Processes In
clpex.com May 2004.
3. Aitken, C.G.G ; 1995 Statistics and the Evaluation of Evidence for
Forensic Scientists. Wiley & Sons,
4. O’Hara, Charles: O’Hara, Gregory ; 2003 Fundamentals of Criminal
Investigation 7th ed. P.14
To discuss this Detail, the
message board is always open: (http://www.clpex.com/phpBB/viewforum.php?f=2)
More formal latent print discussions are available at
DON'T IGNORE STAFFERS' COMPLAINTS
Few managers like to hear employee complaints. And many companies
discourage employees from airing grievances. But that's an extremely
short-sighted policy. When you fail to handle complaints, you create
resentment, lower morale, reduce productivity and increase turnover..
Use these strategies to surface employee complaints:
1. Watch your tongue. The way you react to a complaint immediately
sets a tone. Managers often discourage negative feedback by emotionally
reacting to the news. The complaints go underground - resulting in
cynicism and destructive gossip.
2. Listen to all complaints. Don't trivialize a grievance, even if
it's a protest about the lack of a cappuccino machine in the luncroom. You
don't have to remedy every complaint, but you should be curteous.
3. Recognize the individual. Respond to each employee's particular
problem. Don't give a one-size-fits-all answer to every complaint.
4. Respond appropriately. If the problem is easily resolved, say
"Good point. We can fix that." Then identify and explain how.
If the complaint is confusing or incomplete, say "Bring me more facts, so I can
better evaluate the situation," If you can't do anything about a problem, say
"We can't change the situation, and here's why...".
Adapted from "The Dangers of Tuning Out
Employee Complaints," by Joanna L. Krotz, via Communication Briefings,
February, 2004, 800.722.9221, briefings.com.
UPDATES ON CLPEX.com
Updated the SMILEYFILES with about a dozen new images!! Check out all the new smileys!
Again, thanks to all who submitted.
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
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Until next Monday morning, don't work too hard or too little.
Have a GREAT week!