|Posted on Saturday, March 01, 2003 - 09:18 am: ||
Here are two reasons why Latent Print Examiners should learn classification:
1 - Defense attorneys come across much literature about classification and may question you about it in court. In moot courts, I have used a line of questioning like this when playing the role of defense attorney:
Defense: Okay then, you have explained that you are not a fingerprint clerk and do not classify fingerprint cards because your agency no longer has an old-fashioned filing system... but, isn't it true that if the latent fingerprint is, for example, a whorl and the inked print is a loop, that it would constitute the type of Level 1 detail difference which would preclude an identification? 2 - It is 2 AM and you are sound asleep when the phone rings and the local state police dispatcher asks if you are the fingerprint expert from the crime lab. He explains that they are holding a suspect based on an NCIC hit on the name William James Smith with DOB 14 Jan 73, white, male. They arrested Smith after a traffic stop for speeding, but his ID showed the name William Joseph Smith with DOB 14 Jan 72, and they need you to come immediately to help them decide if they have the right guy. You explain that they should fingerprint him and fax his prints to the FBI CJIS Expedite Services office open 24-hours a day in Clarksburg, WV... that's why that office exists. The dispatcher explains that they tried that, and even printed the suspect twice, but the Expedite Services folks said the prints are illegible via fax due to the small hands and fine ridges of the suspect. Expedite Services asked them to enlarge the prints on a copier and fax the enlargements, but they don't have a copier and they use the fax machine to make copies when needed. Expedite Services then told them that all they need to do is get a local fingerprint expert to come in and look at the prints... and that the expert will be able to eliminate the suspect based on the NCIC fingerprint classification, or the expert can confirm that the classification matches and the suspect should be held because everything still points to him being wanted. You arrive and walk past the suspect's crying wife and kids in the state police precinct office, and the attorney the suspect's wife called four hours ago when this started. The attorney remarks, "Thank God they got the fingerprint expert in here... this will all be over in a few minutes." The arresting trooper gives you a copy of the NCIC printout and the fingerprint cards. He even has a hand magnifying glass (he uses it with his crossword dictionary). Which kind of fingerprint expert are you? - The kind who also achieved the basic skills of a fingerprint clerk to classify fingerprints, or the well-skilled modern examiner who is an expert with Level 1, 2 and 3, practices ACE-V AND is clueless about classification?
(Witness answers that yes, technically that would preclude an identification but that often times the latent print does not include enough area to classify.)
Defense: Does the latent fingerprint you identified in this case include enough area so that a competent fingerprint clerk could classify it?
(Witness answers that he is not a fingerprint clerk, but that yes, he is pretty sure that a fingerprint clerk could classify it.)
Defense: Thank you for admitting that there IS still validity to knowing classification in fingerprint work AND that the Level 1 detail in this case is sufficient for classification. I now show you twenty-seven images of fingerprint patterns from the FBI's book, The Science of Fingerprints. Please tell us what the correct classification is for each.
(Witness hesitates and looks at the prosecutor hoping he will object, then tries to tap dance some remarks about it not being necessary for identification - hoping somebody will rescue him... but, the judge and jurors are beginning to suspect the witness is incompetent to examine Level 1 detail and perhaps lacks the skill of a fingerprint clerk.)
|Posted on Friday, February 28, 2003 - 11:07 pm: ||
My opinion is that if you are an Examiner you must know Henry due to the fact that it the only true way of getting a good understanding of the patterns and the feature them self. It is sad to see that it is not taught formally. I teach our new unit members henry as well as our AFIS operators. At least they will have an understanding of it.
|Posted on Thursday, February 27, 2003 - 05:41 am: ||
We discontinued filing our cards by the modified Henry system several years ago. All ten print cards are now filed in numerical order by their prisoner ID number. However, that does not mean that we no longer teach the Henry classification system. Recognition of pattern types is still an integral part of any fingerprint work. The problem we have run into by going to a numerical based filing system is the inability to "catch" those individuals who suffer an 'identity crisis'. If an individual is arrested for a Class C misdemeanor, the ten print card is not submitted to the state AFIS system. For crimes above the Class C offense types, they are, in which case duplicate identifications are usually found. For those departments having an in-house or local AFIS system that should not be a problem if all ten print cards are being stored on the data base.
|Posted on Friday, February 21, 2003 - 01:54 pm: ||
When I was first trained in fingerprints(1993), the Henry System was taught. We file all 10-print cards with palms attached by Henry.
There is recent discussion of discontinuing this practice when we discovered that the "Basic" Fingerprint Comparison School does NOT teach Henry anymore. It seems that our new people will not receive formal instruction on Henry.
How do you file the fingerprint cards if not by Henry?
What problems and/or benefits have you seen with your non-Henry filing system?
We are considering filing by some type of identifying police number, tied into our local police computer system.
Terry A. Smith
|Posted on Monday, February 17, 2003 - 09:40 am: ||
It's worth it. You may be working in an AFIS environment, but your brain will be eliminating candidates because of Henry-based classification differences, trends, etc....
Not to mention, some lawyer is some day going to get his hands on a book with Henry in it. If you're in the stand trying to be qualified as an "expert" and you are asked to name and describe the patterns, shouldn't you have an answer?
|Posted on Saturday, February 15, 2003 - 11:33 am: ||
As we enter into a new age of collecting and storage of fingerprints, is it worth learning the Henry classification system?