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Technology Enhances Capture of Latent Fingerprints and Other Forensic Evidence

NCJ Number
249679
Date Published
January 2016
Author(s)
Michele Coppola
Agencies
NIJ-Sponsored
Annotation
This article reports on a Florida sheriff’s office’s use of a sophisticated imaging technology that assists in locating, collecting, and processing latent fingerprints and other crime scene evidence, including bodily fluids and gunshot residue.
Abstract
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office obtained the lab station and mobile versions of the full spectrum imaging system in early 2015, using a grant from the National Institute of Justice. This system enables forensic specialists to locate and view untreated fingerprints and other evidence by using a range of options that include shortwave ultraviolet light, visible light, and infrared. The system enables forensics investigators to detect latent fingerprints on surfaces and documents that have not been treated with conventional powder or chemicals, thus preserving the integrity of the evidence. Detected fingerprints are photographed with a 16 megapixel camera that captures images at 1,000 dpi. This results in a digitally superior latent print. Once the evidence is in the lab, it can be scanned using the shortwave UV light, producing results in 10-15 minutes. If required, latent print evidence can be processed further with powders, chemicals, or dye stains after initially using the imaging system. The technology can also be used to locate bodily fluids, hair, bone fragments, and other evidence. Investigators have used the system in a variety of crimes, including homicides, robberies, burglaries, and vehicle theft. Since purchasing the system, it has been used by the sheriff’s office in approximately 200 cases; however, it has not always been successful, particularly when there is not enough fingerprint residue on an item or surface.
Date Created: January 20, 2016