Breaking NEWz you can UzE...
compiled by Jon Stimac
High-Tech Fingerprints –
KOTV, OK - Aug. 13, 2004
...criminals might be able to escape the clutches of officers, but
today's hi-tech crime catchers are able to find people who might
otherwise get away...
Finger Scans Replacing Keys –
NEWS JOURNAL, DE - Aug. 12, 2004
...stuffing something in a public
locker usually isn't a memorable experience - fingerprints may make
Print Hit Nets Murder Suspect –
NEWSDAY, NY - Aug. 11,
2004 ...a break in the case
came when police matched a fingerprint lifted from suspect's home...
Technology Makes its Print on Future –
BUCKS COUNTY COURIER TIMES, PA - Aug. 9,
2004 ...not long
ago, police would have had to wait 6-weeks for fingerprint
confirmation of identity - now it takes 30 minutes or less...
Gerald Clough brought us the results of discussion and his thoughts on the
importance of objectivity during analysis and comparison. He recently
summed it up nicely on the message board... "In computer science, you
start thinking about the world in terms of systems that take input and produce
output in a well-defined way that are very particular about what constitutes
valid input. If you feed a system data it wasn't designed to accept, it either
locks up or produces bad output. The problem with our human function is that we
don't error out on bad input - we produce bad output."
we prepare for what is likely to be the largest educational event for
identification that many of us have ever seen... the US Centennial IAI
conference in St. Louis Missouri in celebration of 100 years of fingerprinting
in America. Activities are kicked off on Sunday night with the Presidents
reception and will last all week long.
The CLPEX.com 2004 t-shirts will be ready on Thursday! Check out the
form on the website, available by hyperlink on the left side of the home page
under "site features."
They will be finished just in time for me to pick
them up and take them to the conference... If you are attending and want
to make sure I have one for you at the conference, place your order on the
website BY THURSDAY and specify "Deliver at the conference" in the comments
section. I will have your shirts there! (this will also save $5
Update from Donald Reid regarding the Henry Faulds Memorial being constructed in
Just a brief note to advise you that the ( VERY EXPENSIVE ) bronze plaque
arrived from the foundry today and it is, in my view, first class. A very
fitting tribute to Henry Faulds. Tom Armstrong (NAC liaison) advises via phone
message earlier today (Friday) that the railing is now ready at the engineers in
Kilmarnock and only requires confirmation of the colour of paint (black). The
granite stone is at Ardrossan and will soon be married to the plaque, delivered
to the site between Main Street and the Cross, contractors organsied to place
the railing and carry out paving and ground work. October looks a realistic
months for the inauguration of the memorial. At long last Dr Henry Faulds will
be suitably honoured in Scotland and in Beith, the town of his birth and early
education and future generations will know of his special contribution to the
science of fingerprinting. I will try to arrange a photo of the plaque this
weekend and request it be displayed on the web sites. Thanks again to everyone
for their help and support. It has been a long haul, but we are almost there.
An interesting discussion took place on the CLPEX message board this week
regarding "John Doe" warrants. The following is a re-print of some of the
key conversation surrounding this concept, prompted by a post from Dennis
Subject: Indicting John Doe
By: Dennis G. Degler
Date: 11/Aug/2004 at 2:58:06pm
I just read an article on CNN about the practice of indicting DNA profiles in
Wisconsin in lieu of knowing the perpetrator's name so that the statute of
limitations on Sexual Assault cases will not run out. Apparently they've
indicted some 15 profiles, and last year an appeals court upheld a conviction
based on such an indictment that had gone past the statute of limitations. Why
don't we do that with fingerprints that we feel reasonably sure are the
suspects? Just indict the John Doe depositor of the fingerprint in all
Burglaries, Robberies, Thefts, etc. and if we ever match it up, why we'll send
him/her up the river.
The article was copied from:
Date: 11/Aug/2004 at 4:12:10pm
Subject: Re: Indicting John Doe
Funny you should mention it. Last week I cut a warrant for a man
identified by fingerprints and photo. It was a burglary with a solid case
that the fingerprint was the actor's. He was hit on AFIS from a single
arrest for public intoxication. At that time, he had no ID and gave a name
and date of birth orally. He was illegal but was not in Homeland Security.
I have no reasons to believe he gave a right name, and no reason to believe
there's not someone else out there with that name and DOB. All I really know
about him is his prints and photo. So, the warrant reads, in part:
...arrest a Hispanic male who has used the name Javier Jimenez and whose
fingerprints and photograph appear on Exhibit "A" and Exhibit "B" attached
and by this reference incorporated in this Warrant for all purposes.
It's a bit different from cutting a warrant solely on a latent print that's
never matched up. But it should be as good a warrant as any, since that's a
unique person. However, I have a reasonable chance of getting Javier, since
he may well use the name again and get checked.
A warrant off a latent stops the time running under the limitations statute,
and should AFIS hit the fugitive from a future booking, it would still be
good. A real issue, though, is if it's worth in on property crimes. The
limitation period is sufficiently long, even without being frozen by a
warrant, that an AFIS hit after that period had expired wouldn't raise too
much enthusiasm for prosecution.
And fingerprints are nearly so often absolute proof of the actor's identity.
They place a unique person on the scene and are often highly suggestive of
guilt and sufficient for a warrant. But that's quite a bit less than the
weight of biological material recovered from a sexual assault victim.
Date: 12/Aug/2004 at 8:22:58am
Subject: "Probable Cause"
The legal requirement for obtaining an arrest warrant is "probable
cause," which is a lower standard than that required for conviction, which
is "beyond a reasonable doubt." So if there were probable cause to believe a
latent fingerprint from a crime scene or evidence were the fingerprint of
the perpetrator, and if you could convince a judge to issue an arrest
warrant for "John Doe, whose fingerprint is shown in appendix 'A' of this
affidavit," then you've got your warrant and have only to wait for an
unidentified latent to 10-print hit in somebody's AFIS. I am not sure that
was the intent of the various legislatures when the various statutes of
limitations were established in the 50 States and the Federal laws. But if
the courts allow it, then it becomes law. And if the Supreme Court accepts
it, then it becomes "the law of the land." Hey, if it works for DNA, why not
Date: 12/Aug/2004 at 7:10:19am
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Indicting John Doe
The sweaty fingerprints on the inside and outside of the jagged piece of
glass still in the window that the suspect tried to remove.
The fingerprint on the trigger of the murder weapon (Not frequently seen,
but I've seen two in my career. Identified only because we knew who the
likely suspect was)
The fresh-looking prints left in the thick layer of dust on the box pulled
down from the top shelf during a burglary.
The prints on both sides of the wrapper torn off the new CD/DVD/other
The prints on the soda can brought up to the convenience store counter that
was inadvertently left there by the suspect after he robbed the store and
fled, and the prints do not belong to the store owner, who stocked the
These and many others are real situtations I've come across and no doubt
most of you have seen these sort of things as well. These, in my estimation,
would be situations in which, if you had a name, the print matched, and
there was no innocent explanation as to why that person's print was there,
would lead to an indictment. But what if you didn't have a name for several
years? Indict the fingerprint? Forget about it, because there's no interest
I'll bet the victim has an interest, even if it was several years ago. I was
a victim of a small property crime many years ago in which the suspect was
never caught and punished, and I'm still pretty burned about it.
Date: 12/Aug/2004 at 10:38:19am
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Indicting John Doe
One caveat to note here with John Doe warrrants. I attended a conference
(MAFS...think about joining won't you?) in Madison, where the atty gen.
there was talking about his novel use of John Doe warrants and the
conditions under which they would get them.
Three conditions that spring to mind were:
1) DNA samples taken from an area that in all likelihood would be the perp
and only after all elimination work had been done
2) ONLY THE MOST SERIOUS AND GRIEVOUS CRIMES. So for example they weren't
doing these on every rape coming through, but rather a rape and sodomy of a
12 yr old handicapped girl or a serial rapist, etc. The conditions under
which they would serve these were very strict and after (as Gerald points
out) the approval of a strict and observant magistrate.
3) They listed right on the warrant the EXACT alleles for all 13 loci. Now
Gerald mentioned attaching IMAGES of the prints...that would be consistent
with this, but I think the clarity of the print and amount of information on
a print like this should be pretty overwhelming, as in, there is little to
no room to have someone say, "eh, I see similarities, but not enough to call
it..." as in the highest Q&Q range of John V. graph.
Just some thoughts. Otherwise, I think it is a great and very compelling
idea. The instances where this would be used (per my 3 conditions above) I
suspect would be few and far between.
(one example I like is a print under layers of duct tape on the murder
victim...pretty hard to weasel out of that one...)
Date: 12/Aug/2004 at 12:28:49pm
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Indicting John Doe
That reminds me that I was going to respond to something Dennis said
about the victim's perspective on whether or not prosecution of some lesser
crimes asn't preserved by a valid John Doe filing.
We would, in most cases, only resort to a John Doe indictment to prevent
losing prosecution through statutory limitation. Texas, by statute, put no
limitation on sexual assault where foreign DNA is found. Otherwise, it's ten
For theft, burglary or robbery, probably the most common felonies for which
we might have John Doe latent evidence, it's five years. For five years,
we're not conserned with a John Doe indictment. AFIS should tell us if a
suspect comes through the system during that time.
Do we worry about a burglary case that's aging past five years for which we
could get a John Doe indictment, on the chance that, after more than five
years, a suspect gets hit who hasn't been documented through a jail before?
I would say not.
There are practical resource problems with keeping cases alive beyond the
limitations period. Evidence of all sorts must be kept. The prosecutor has
open case files. Witnesses, examiners and officers drift off or die.
Memories fade. Commercial victims go out of business. Actors die without
being identified with the offense. The chance of recovering property is
essentially zero. We would also, of course, need a way to lock the latent
data into AFIS systems beyond the limitations period. Prosecution may have
to be undertaken under law that was otherwise superceded since the offense.
All of that requires resources that are better expended on cases with better
prospects. There are vastly more current cases that cannot be investigated
or effectively prosecuted because of shortages than there will ever be John
Doe cases cleared after the limitations period.
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
FUNNY FINGERPRINT FIND
The FFF folder is empty again! Send 'em in as you find 'em.
Getting the most out of the IAI conference
(re-printed from last week for those who
didn't read it with this in mind! :)
Your organization is footing the bill for
you to attend an industry conference or seminar. How can you make the most
of the experience? The best way is to eliminate distractions and hone your
listening skills. Here's how:
1) Sit near the front, so you have a clear view of the speaker.
It's easier to be attentive if you're sitting at the front of the room. If
you sit in the back, you may be distracted by others in front of you.
2) Come prepared. Ask yourself "What will I gain from this
presentation?" Review what you already know on the subject, so you'll be
able to relate the information to your own interests.
3) Take notes, but don't try to write everything down. Don't be
consumed by your notes, or you'll be distracted from the overall message.
4) Have high expectations. You hear what you expect to hear.
If you think the event will be boring, it will be.
"1000 Things You Never Learned
in Business School,",
by William N. Yeomana via Communication Briefings, February 2004, 800.722.9221, briefings.com.
UPDATES ON CLPEX.com
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Until next Monday morning, don't work too hard or too little.
Have a GREAT week!