Breaking NEWz you can UzE...
compiled by Jon Stimac
Doctor Removed Suspects‘ Fingerprints –
HINESBURG JOURNAL, CANADA May 12, 2007
...a Mexican doctor surgically removed drug traffickers‘ fingerprints,
substituting skin from the soles of their feet...
Fingerprints Solve Catholic Church Fire –
INDIANAPOLIS STAR, IN -
2007 ...fingerprints on a bottle of church
wine discarded in a trash bin helped lead investigators to a man...
More Police Discrepancies Revealed
MUMBAI NEWSLINE, INDIA
- May 11, 2007
...police admitted in court that they have not recovered the glass on
which the accused fingerprints were found...
Man Charged with Home Invasion
JOURNAL NEWS, NY
2007 ...the print matched by the Sheriff's Department
detectives provided the police with enough evidence to charge...
Recent CLPEX Posting Activity
containing new posts
Moderated by Steve Everist
Poll ] Pay Parity
sorbitol Sun May 13, 2007 7:09 pm
Debating research, especially when you do not agree with it!
Dr. Dror Sun May 13, 2007 6:48 pm
McKie's facing court appearance?
Daktari Sun May 13, 2007 4:26 pm
Not so good news out of Florida
Jessica Janisch Sat May 12, 2007 3:56 pm
www.shirleymckie.com - book launch and site re-structure
Iain McKie Fri May 11, 2007 10:48 pm
Having Trouble Getting Justice?
Dennis Degler Fri May 11, 2007 10:34 pm
Steve Skowron Fri May 11, 2007 5:50 am
Are there any latent examiner's lab that don't verify?
J Fennell Fri May 11, 2007 12:33 am
Fingerprint authenticates Jackson Pollock masterpiece?
Red.Sox.Fan Thu May 10, 2007 8:53 pm
Point Of View: Point Counters and Pseudoscience
Charles Parker Tue May 08, 2007 3:27 pm
UPDATES ON CLPEX.com
I'm safely back home after 8 weeks of travel. Thanks to the many friends
and colleagues who kept me in their thoughts and prayers.
Updated the Detail Archives with the website updates for the last 8 weeks of
the Detial via e-mail. The Newz will be updated soon for those weeks.
Updated the Smiley Files with four new Smileys from Michele Triplett,
Sherrie Hill, Kathleen Bright-Birnbaum, and Brian Segrest! Thanks as always
to Bill Wolz for his efforts as our Smiley Czar. Visit the CLPEX.com Smiley
Files to see these latest additions..
we reviewed some fingerprint related news and
Pat Wertheim brings us a
comprehensive guide to reviewing, practicing, and strategizing for the IAI
Preparing for the IAI Latent Print Certification Test
by PAT WERTHEIM
There has been discussion on the CLPEX Chat Board since its inception
by latent print examiners preparing for the IAI Latent Print Certification
Test. The concern seems to be how to prepare for the test. In this article,
I will try to give you some tips on preparation for the test. Years ago when
I was teaching an advanced class in fingerprint comparison, I had the
opportunity to work with each student individually and get to know them,
their habits, their strengths, and their weaknesses. That made it easy to
customize a strategy for taking the test for each individual. A “one size
fits all” strategy may not work as well, but at the end of this article I
will give some suggestions for you personally to customize a strategy based
on your own self evaluation.
First of all, check the IAI website for details of the latent print
certification program at http://www.theiai.org/certifications/fingerprint/index.php
(http://www.theiai.org/certifications/fingerprint/index.php) for all of the
The test is given in four parts. The first three parts are sent in the mail
and are proctored. The fourth part is testimony and it will be discussed
near the end of this article.
To begin the process, mail a completed application form with all required
attachments to the Latent Print Certification Board Secretary. The
application goes through the approval process, which may take several months
while the Certification Board and your IAI Division committee verify all of
your information. Once the application is approved, the first three parts of
the test are mailed to a member or your IAI Division Certification
Committee. That committee member will contact you to set up a date to take
The three parts of the test you will take at that time are
A. Comparison of 15 latent prints with inked prints. You must correctly
identify 12 of the latent prints with no erroneous identifications (80%).
B. Pattern interpretation of 35 inked fingerprints (passing score: 90%)
C. True/False, multiple choice (hereinafter referred to as TFMC) questions
over the history of fingerprints, pattern interpretation, and latent
fingerprint. (Passing score: 85%)
For most people, section “B.” (pattern interpretation) is not difficult. All
of the prints were, to my eye, basic whorls, loops, and arches without any
attempt to fool you with trick patterns. None of the prints were smudged or
incomplete. Passing this part of the test is, in a word, easy.
Section “C.” (TFMC) is likewise not difficult for the majority of people I
have known who take the test. All questions are “true or false” or multiple
choice. All of the answers come directly from the resource material, but
most are “common knowledge” in our profession if you have been to classes,
studied the texts and articles, do both processing and comparisons, and
engage in business related discussions with other examiners at conferences.
Passing this part of the test is, in two words, pretty easy.
Henry Templeman of San Jose Police Department has done a very good job of
writing a “practice test” for people preparing for this part of the test and
Ed German has posted Henry’s practice test at his site. For a good idea what
the real test will be like, take the practice test at http://onin.com/fp/san_jose_pd_lp_exam_practice_questions_aug2006.pdf
(http://onin.com/fp/san_jose_pd_lp_exam_practice_questions_aug2006.pdf ) or
access the practice test by going to www.onin.com, click on fingerprints,
then click on “expert topics,” then scroll down until you come to the link
to Henry’s sample questions.
Section “A.” is the part where most people who “fail” the test have trouble.
I dislike the word “fail” in this context because most people I have known
personally who did not pass the test had the talent and ability to do so,
but were unable to make the required 12 or more identifications in the time
period allowed. In a sense, they did not “fail,” they merely did not make
enough correct identifications in the allotted time. In other words, they
did not “fail” in the classic sense of marking wrong answers. Rather, the
answers they got were all correct but they ran out of time before getting
enough of the answers correct. This is where the “strategy” I talked about
in the first paragraph of this article comes in. When I was still teaching
and working personally with my students to prepare them for the test, for
many years the pass rate among my students was 100%. Eventually, a few did
not pass the test for various reasons, but even by the time I retired from
teaching, my students were still running a 90% pass rate or greater.
Why do I think you need a “strategy?” A number of factors apply in answering
this question. Some people are “natural test takers” and some people almost
literally freeze up at the thought of taking a test. Most of us fall
somewhere between those two extremes. The “natural test takers” have
developed a subconscious ability to develop and follow a good strategy in
taking just about any test and those people have no serious problems with
the certification test. On the other hand, those who freeze up at the
thought of taking a test need to develop a rigid strategy specifically for
the test and they need to practice, practice, practice, in order to cope
with their apprehensions and avoid “freezing up” during the real test. Those
in the middle will usually do well by learning and, after only one or two
practice tests, applying their “strategy.”
So I believe the key to passing the test for many people is simply
approaching it with a good strategy.
STRATEGY for taking the IAI LATENT PRINT CERTIFICATION TEST
First, decide in what order to take the three parts of the test. If you
believe you are weak at comparisons, my advice is to take the comparison
part first, make your twelve identifications, then immediately stop the
comparisons and move on to the other parts of the test, the pattern
interpretation and the true/false/multiple choice parts. The reason for this
strategy is that if you run out of time and have not finished the entire
test, you only have to repeat the parts you “failed.” Of course, if you make
an erroneous identification, you must retake the entire test. But let’s
assume you do not make an erroneous identification and you do get your 12
correct identifications, but you run out of time on one of the other parts
of the test. In that case, you do NOT have to repeat the comparisons when
you take the test again six months later. You only have to take the part or
parts you did not complete. So, if you are slow or weak at comparisons, take
the comparisons first, make 12 identifications, and quit that part of the
test to move on to the other parts.
On the other hand, if you are reasonably quick with comparisons and believe
you can find twelve in six or seven hours or less, my advice is to take the
pattern interpretation and TFMC parts first. Get them out of the way and
clear the desk for the comparison portion of the test. Then, do NOT quit
after 12 identifications, but go for all you can get. It would be easy to
quit after 12, but to my mind, if you are better than that, why be a
quitter? Some people have said to me, “But what if I get my 12 and go for
one or two more, but I try to guess and make an erroneous identification?”
My response is, “Why would you ever guess at an identification?” I am not
suggesting you “guess,” but go on beyond the 12 identifications to see if
you can identify the rest. Don’t be a quitter! Be a cut above and make all
the identifications you can!
Now, when taking the comparison portion of the test, here is some more
strategy. Separate the latent fingerprints from the latent palm prints. Put
the fingers in one stack and the palms in a separate stack. Next, put the
fingerprints in order with the easiest ones on the top of the stack and the
hardest ones on the bottom; likewise with the latent palm prints. Go a step
further and separate the latent right palms from the latent left palms.
Now, separate the known (inked) fingerprints from the known (inked) palm
prints. It is my observation that this is one of the hardest “speed bumps”
for many people to get over. It has to do with the way your brain organizes
material. We are taught to organize fingerprints by suspects’ names. When
you are working at your desk, you probably keep the fingers and palms
together by suspect name, and that is fine. But in taking the certification
test, that habit is counterproductive. It works against you. Break it. If
you keep the inked fingerprints and inked palm prints together by name, you
waste valuable time flipping through all the palm cards every time you
compare a latent fingerprint, and flipping through inked fingerprints every
time you are searching a latent palm print.
In fact, let’s take it a step further. Separate your inked prints into THREE
stacks – inked fingerprints, inked right palm prints, and inked left palm
prints. Now you can compare fingers to fingers, right palms to right palms,
and left palms to left palms without having to waste any time flipping
through cards you do not need to compare.
Okay, I know you are thinking, “But what if the latent is a little piece of
ridge detail and I can’t tell whether it is a finger or a right palm or a
left palm?” The truth is that most of the latent prints on the test are not
indeterminable little specks of ridge detail, and the one or two that might
be will be at the bottom of one of the stacks of latents anyway, so don’t
worry about them at this point. We will get to that later in the “strategy.”
So, we are going to begin by comparing latent fingers to inked fingers,
latent right palms to inked right palms, and latent left palms to inked left
In taking the comparison part of the test, is important to use “Analysis,”
“Comparison,” and “Evaluation” separately. In “Analysis,” you study the
latent print thoroughly. The more time you spend on analysis, the less time
you will spend on comparison. If you skip a thorough analysis of the latent
and go straight to comparison by putting the latent print next to the inked
prints, you will lose valuable time. The way to save that valuable time is
use a little of it first for a thorough analysis of the latent.
First, pick your best “target group” in the latent print. A “Target Group”
is usually a cluster of three or four “Points” that you can memorize and
then recognize again. The “best” target group is not always the most bizarre
group or cluster of points, but is a group or cluster of points that you can
“anchor” to some other feature in the latent print, like the delta or the
core. A single ridge ending that you can precisely measure as three ridges
directly above the core is a far better target than some strange
configuration of points 15 or 20 ridges away, up kind of near the top
somewhere. Chose your “target group” based on how exactly you can tie it to
the delta or the core. If there is no clear delta or core, use the “type
lines” and find a target group on them. (If you do not understand the
concept of “type lines,” it is time to pull out the FBI’s booklet, “Science
of Fingerprints,” and study your definitions.) A target group right on the
type lines, or a ridge or two above or below the type lines, is much easier
to find when you are searching the inked prints that a target group
somewhere out in left field.
The whole idea here is to pick your target group based NOT on what is the
most unusual thing in the latent print, but rather, what will be the easiest
and fastest to find in the inked prints. So, during “analysis,” pick your
target carefully – then MEMORIZE it. The best way for most people to
memorize a target is to DRAW it. Drawing a target programs it into your
brain in the same way plotting the points of a latent print into AFIS
programs the computer to find those same points in the inked prints in AFIS.
For the test, DRAW your target group of points to force your brain to
memorize it better, so you will recognize it again faster when you are
searching the inked prints.
Use “Level 1” considerations, as well. If your latent print has thick, wide
ridges, don’t waste your time trying to compare it to the inked prints of a
person whose ridges are thin and close together. If your latent is about a
six count left slope loop, don’t waste time on inked prints much more or
less than six ridge counts in left slope loops. Likewise, if the latent
whorl has an outer tracing, don’t waste time comparing it to whorls with
meet or inner tracings. (If you don’t understand “ridge counts” or “whorl
tracings,” get that little FBI “Science of Fingerprints” book back out and
study your definitions some more.)
So, ANALYZE the latent print at several levels – find your target group and
memorize it by drawing it on a sheet of scratch paper, then look at the
pattern for general considerations.
Next, go to “COMPARISON.” Ashbaugh tells us that the comparison takes place
in the brain, NOT in the eyeball. Therefore, if you have done a competent
job of memorizing the latent print’s target group and pattern, you will
recognize it again when you see it, even when you are not looking at the
latent print at the time. Almost all senior level examiners can tell you
stories about “recognizing” a fingerprint they haven’t seen in weeks or even
months, so here is the key – memorize the target thoroughly and have faith
that you will recognize it again when you see it a few minutes later. Once
you have done that – memorized your target group – then put the latent print
down and leave it down. Pick up the inked prints and start scanning the
patterns. You are beginning the “Comparison” part of the process. You
eliminate inked prints whose patterns do not closely match the pattern of
the latent print and you do not waste time looking for the target group in
them. When you come to an inked print with a pattern that does match the
pattern of the latent, then (without picking the latent print back up) you
look in the place where the target group should appear. If there is nothing
there that even remotely resembles the target group you have recognized,
then you move on to the next inked print without ever picking up the latent
You only pick up the latent print when you find an inked print with both the
pattern and the target group that you are looking for. This takes you to the
“EVALUATION” phase of the process. Now you can put the latent print down
next to the inked print and put the magnifiers on them and go back and forth
until you either identify or exclude the inked print as being the same as
Okay, here is a secret that I think a lot of people do not know. When you
make an identification, eliminate that suspect from further consideration –
at least, for now. In other words, each time you make an identification,
remove the inked fingerprints AND the inked palm prints of that suspect from
the stacks of inked prints. In this way, for the first latent print, you
have a suspect pool of 15 suspects; for the second latent, you have 14
suspects; for the third latent, you have 13 suspects; and so on. In reality,
there is NOT an exact one to one correspondence between all fifteen latents
and all fifteen suspects, but early in the test, we will play like there is.
When you make an identification, eliminate that suspect from further
consideration. We’ll get back to this later.
Up to this point, we have assumed you will find that you will make the
identification using that first target group you memorized. But this may not
always be the case. If you have memorized your target group thoroughly and
you and carefully searched through all fifteen of the suspects, do NOT
continue to look for the same target group. Go back to the latent print and
reanalyze it for a second target group.
Search your first target group very carefully, but search it through the
stack of inked prints only ONCE – then forget about it and go back and find
a second target group. Memorize the second target group thoroughly, then
search it carefully ONE TIME through the inked prints, then forget it and go
back and find a third target group. Memorize it thoroughly, and then search
ONE TIME through the inked prints for it.
What I am trying to stress here is the ONE TIME concept. If you have
memorized a target group thoroughly, you will recognize it instantly when
you see it. If you search and do not find it, that means it does not look
the same in the inked prints and if you keep looking over and over and over
for the same target, you will keep missing it over and over and over. And
that, my friend, is a waste of time – valuable time you do not have to waste
on the test. So search a maximum of three target groups one time each. If
you still haven’t found the identification, put that latent print at the
bottom of the stack and move on to the next latent. You should never waste
more than ten minutes on any latent print until you move on to the next
latent. Search fast and NEVER get into a rut on one latent. If you allow
that to happen, you might as well turn in the test unfinished and go home
early. “Churn” those latent prints – search the first target, the second
target, the third target, and put that latent to the bottom of the stack and
move on to the next latent.
There is an added bonus of doing things this way. You may give up on a
latent after those first three fast but thorough target group searches and
put it to the bottom of the stack, only to spot the target group two or
three latents further down in the stack before you even come back to that
one you missed. Most senior examiners have had this happen on the work
bench, as well.
So, search the first target, the second target, the third target, and move
on to the next latent. When you make an identification, pull all the inked
prints for that suspect.
Now, let me modify the “target group” idea when it comes to palm prints. In
most palm prints you have a multitude of creases. Most of the time in palms,
a group of creases make a better target for the initial search. Once you
find the “crease target” in the initial search, then you go to the “points”
in the comparison phase when you put the magnifiers on the prints.
Sometimes, creases or wrinkles even make great targets in fingerprints, as
And while we are on the topic of a target other than a group of points,
don’t overlook scars and warts that show up in a latent print, either. Those
make some of the best targets of all. Another excellent target is an open
field. In other words, if there is a field of parallel, unbroken ridges in
the latent in which no ridge endings or bifurcations exist, that “open
field” makes a great target.
To review the strategy for the comparisons as we have discussed it so far,
separate the latent fingerprints from the latent palm prints and the inked
fingerprints from the inked right palms and left palms. Organize the latent
fingerprints from easiest to hardest, and the latent palm prints from
easiest to hardest. Begin with the easiest latent fingerprint. Analyze it
thoroughly, pick the target that will be easiest to find in the inked print,
and memorize that target. If the target is a group of traditional “points,”
draw that target to help memorize it. Compare latent fingers to inked
fingers, latent right palms to inked right palms, and latent left palms to
inked left palms. Compare the target group only once through the stack of
inked prints and if you do not identify the latent, immediately go back and
find a second target. Search the second target one time through the
appropriate stack of inked prints. If you do not find the second target, go
back to the latent and find a third target. Search it one time and if you do
not find it, put the latent to the bottom of the stack of latents and move
on to the next latent print. Do not keep searching the same target over and
over, and do not cross-compare latents yet at this point (latent fingers to
inked palm cards, right latent palms to left inked palms, etc.) When you
make an identification, eliminate that suspect’s inked finger and palm
prints from further comparisons. Then move on to the next latent. Search all
of the latent fingerprints, then search all of the latent palm prints.
Now, when you come back to a latent print for the second time in the stack,
hold it out and say to yourself, “Okay, what’s the trick here? Why did I
miss it the first time? How can I look at this differently? Could it be a
different area of skin than I thought?” There are some latent prints that
are tricky. There may be a latent print that looks like a fingerprint that
in reality is a palm print. Or there may be a latent print that you believe
at first to be a palm print that turns out to be a fingerprint. Begin
searching each latent as your first, best guess dictates, but do not get
married to that idea. On the second search, be flexible and try to figure
out if the latent could have come from somewhere else.
Using this strategy, you should be able to get at least 12 of the
identifications without too much trouble. At some point, you will want to
open the suspect list back up and include all 15 suspects’ finger and palm
prints. But if you do this too soon, you will waste valuable time looking
through inked prints that could not be the correct identification, so hold
off until you are at a complete roadblock. Hopefully, you will have at least
twelve identifications by then.
When you do reach a complete roadblock, or after 13 or 14 identifications,
go ahead and bring all of the inked prints back into the stacks for
comparison. By the time you get to searching a particular latent for the
third or fourth time it has come up in the stack, you will probably want to
search it against everything. There is not an exact one to one correlation
for the latents; in other words, there may be a set of suspect inked prints
for which there is no latent, or there may be two latents to the same
suspect. But for the first two thirds or more of the comparisons, you will
save time by comparing latent fingers only to inked fingers, and by
eliminating suspects. But eventually, you may want to bring everything back
in and compare to everything. DO NOT DO THIS TOO EARLY!
PRACTICE COMPARISON TESTS
It is always helpful to prepare and take some practice comparison tests. To
do this, you will need fifteen “volunteers.” Over the years, I have
fingerprinted the other criminalists in the lab many times. I have also
printed many of the patrol officers and investigators who have come into the
lab to check on cases. In addition, I will frequently ask people taking a
tour of the lab for prints (spouses and friends of other employees). I have
even been known to snag people in the hall and ask if they can spare 20
minutes when I am desperate for a new set of prints.
Before you take the volunteer’s inked finger and palm prints, get them to
deposit some latents for you. In that regard, you do not want people with
too-clean hands. But just in case, keep a little hand lotion handy. Only a
drop or two will do the trick. A big squirt of hand lotion will render the
person’s latent prints too greasy and heavy and may even have a halo effect
from the hand lotion, so go extremely light if you resort to hand lotion.
In the lab chemical room, I have a piece of clean plate glass (used to be
the cover for the aquarium when that was how we superglued), on which I will
ask the person to simply put both hands down flat with the fingers splayed.
I also have a couple of coffee mugs, which I will ask them to pick up (not
by the handle) as if they were just naturally taking a drink. Sometimes I
use clean keys or clean coins, or test tubes or beakers, just to vary the
background noise and distortion due to shapes of the surface.
Dust and lift 15 or 20 latent prints from each person, but do not lift
too-easy latents. If a latent is too pretty, take your own finger, rub it on
the side of your nose, and carefully smudge out a core or delta or easy part
of the latent. Then redust the latent before you lift it. Lift a few easy
latents, a bunch of medium difficult latents, and a few really nasty latents.
Then take inked finger and palm prints from the volunteer. I like to let
them make up an alias name, although beware of cops and dispatchers – they
sometimes tend to get a little vulgar. Or you can make up alias names
yourself, or just assign numbers (Suspect 1, 2, 3, etc.) We have gone almost
exclusively to the new water soluble fingerprint ink. The prints are not
quite as crisp under magnification, but for the vast majority of people, the
inked prints turn out very good. The advantage of using water soluble
fingerprint ink is that your volunteer’s hands will come absolutely clean,
even without soap. The older grease based fingerprint inks (printers’ ink)
is impossible for some people to get completely clean from their cuticles.
After you have a stack of latent prints and inked finger and palm prints
from at least 15 volunteers, you are ready to put together some practice
tests. Take one latent from most people, but two latents from maybe one
person. In selecting the latents, use maybe 8 or ten medium difficulty
prints, a couple of slightly more difficult latents, and two or three pretty
nasty latents. Also, use a variety of 9 or 10 fingerprints and 5 or 6 latent
palm prints. Then use sets of inked prints that match all fifteen of the
latents to 13 or 14 people, making up the difference to 15 sets of inked
prints with “strangers.”
Number the fifteen latents 1 through 15 and put them into an envelope and
label it “Test 1.” Put the fifteen suspects’ inked prints into another
envelope and label it correspondingly. Quality photocopies work just as well
as original inked prints, but not for the latents. For more authenticity, if
you want to go to the trouble, scan all of the latents and all of the inked
prints at 1200 PPI or greater and print them on photo quality paper, then
take the practice tests using the printouts from the scanned images.
Ideally, somebody else would be able to put the practice tests together for
you so you do not “know” any of the latents. But in my experience, but the
time you get the tests finally assembled, you will not remember who any of
the latents came from.
After you have several practice tests, you are ready to practice your
“strategy.” My recommendation is to not practice too early. Apply for
certification, get a test date, and then use the practice tests beginning 3
to 5 days before you actually take the certification test. Dump the latents
out of their envelope and separate the latent fingers from the latent right
palms and the latent left palms. Then dump out the inked prints from their
envelope and separate the inked fingers from right palms and left palms. Put
the latents in each stack in order from easiest to most difficult.
Begin with the easiest latent fingerprint. Find your target. Memorize it.
Draw it (I cannot emphasize enough the value of drawing it.) Search it
through the inked fingerprints one time only. If you find it, pull the
fingerprints and the palm prints from that suspect. If you don’t find it, go
back to the latent and memorize a second target. Search it only once. Then a
third target. If you still haven’t made an identification, put that latent
to the bottom of the stack and move on. Keep churning those latents. NEVER
allow yourself to get into a rut on one latent. If you do, you can burn off
an hour or more before you even know it, and on the real test you cannot
afford to do that. So apply the strategy strictly on the practice tests. You
want the strategy to become “habit” so it feels natural and you don’t have
to think about it when you take the real test.
TESTIMONY SECTION OF THE TEST
The fourth part of the Certification Test is the testimony portion. Check
the IAI website, as referenced early in this article. If you have ever
testified to a latent print identification, then a transcript of that
testimony can be mailed to the Certification Board Secretary following the
successful completion of the first three parts of the test. To get a copy of
the transcript if you do not already have one, first ask the prosecutor. If
a transcript was typed for an appeal, the prosecutor can get you a copy for
free. If not, then if you remember the name of the case and the court in
which you testified, you can contact the court reporter and ask for a copy
of the transcript. The court reporter will charge a fee per page. A lengthy
transcript can cost several hundred dollars (the last one I bought cost me
over $400 and included a day and a half of testimony). There is always the
possibility you can ask your department to pay for the cost of a transcript,
both for study to improve your testimony and as part of your certification
If you have never testified to a latent print identification, the Latent
Print Certification Committee in your state or region may be able to arrange
a mock trial to satisfy the requirement. The IAI may also take a
hypothetical transcript in which you type out all of the questions a
prosecutor would ask and type the answers you would give. Check with your
local certification committee to find out.
Customizing a strategy includes an honest self-assessment. If you believe
you can make twelve sort of average identifications in five or six hours,
take the pattern comparison and TFMC parts of the test first. Then do the
comparisons and go for as many as you can get. Don’t be a quitter.
If you are afraid that twelve sort of average identifications would be
almost impossible for you to complete in six hours, take the comparison part
of the test first and quit the comparisons as soon as you get twelve. Then
take the pattern interpretation and TFMC parts of the test.
When doing the comparison part of the test, begin by separating the latents
into three stacks – fingers, right palms, and left palms. Separate the inked
prints into three stacks, also. Put the latents in order from easiest to
hardest in each of the three stacks. Start with the easiest.
Do a thorough “analysis” of the first latent fingerprint. Select and
memorize the target in the latent that will be easiest to find in the inked
prints. If the target is a group or cluster of points, DRAW the target.
Do each “comparison” by looking only at the inked prints to search for your
target. Search the inked prints without putting the latent print down next
to each inked print in turn and do not even look back continually at the
latent. If you did a thorough “analysis” and memorized your target properly,
you do not need to constantly refer to it. And if you do constantly look
back at the latent or, worse, put it down next to each inked print to
compare them, you are wasting a tremendous amount of valuable time in doing
Do each “evaluation” with the latent and inked prints side by side. When you
make the identification, eliminate the suspect from further comparisons.
After you have made 13 or 14 identifications, open the suspect list back up
and bring all the suspects back into the comparisons.
After you are through with the identifications, do your “verifications.” In
this phase, I will warn you that most erroneous identifications test takers
have scored on the test were not erroneous identifications at all. They were
“clerical errors.” When you do your “verifications,” make absolutely certain
each latent is marked correctly as to the finger, hand, and suspect name you
identified it to. Check just as carefully for clerical errors as you
normally do for ridge formations during “verification.” The clerical errors
will be counted as erroneous identifications. Double check and triple check.
Make absolutely sure you have them marked correctly.
Then turn in the completed test to your proctor, and GOOD LUCK!!!
For more information or to discuss this article, please feel free to call or
Arizona Department of Public Safety
Southern Regional Crime Laboratory
6401 S. Tucson Blvd.
Tucson, AZ 85706
Email: email@example.com (if you email, please use the word “fingerprints”
in the subject line or it may get deleted as spam).
Phone (work): 520-746-4570
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