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Fingerprint Blog

You have had a couple of experiences with fingerprinting, what do you think?  Do you agree that fingerprints are a good identifier of someone?  Was it easy to leave fingerprints on objects? Was it easy to locate and lift fingerprints?  What did this unit demonstrate/teach you about evidence collection?

Fingerprints are an identifier that have been taken for granted in the past.  In 1985, in the “Night Stalker” case, detectives used a fingerprint to identify the suspect, and it was a crucial piece of evidence for conviction.  Fingerprints have always been around, but were never recognized as a way that people can be specifically pinpointed.  I am grateful that fingerprints are used today to convict criminals, however, taking and lifting fingerprints is more difficult than I originally thought.  Since every person on the planet has a specific individual fingerprint for every finger, I think that fingerprints are great identifiers.  Leaving fingerprints on an object was easy, because I do this everyday with everything that I touch.  But leaving recognizable, non-smudged prints was more difficult.  I had to place my finger carefully on the object, and then lift it straight off without moving it at all.  Locating the fingerprints would be next to impossible without the black powder, because the only reason my prints were left was because of the oil on my hands, and oil is clear.  Once I dusted the powder onto the beaker, I could vaguely see my fingerprints, but it wasn’t the obvious, dark, crystal-clear print that I expected it to be.  Lifting the prints was hard, because the tape wouldn’t always lay flat on the beaker, causing air-bubbles to form, therefore compromising my prints.  I got one good print from the beaker.  It’s a print of my right index finger.  I have included an image of the print that I lifted, next to a print that I carefully took using the pad of ink.  The lifted print is more difficult to see the patterns in, however it’s recognizable that there is a plain whorl in both prints.  I have also included a picture of my full set of prints.  After these experiments with fingerprints, and lifting them and rolling them with ink, I have learned a lot about evidence collection.  I have learned that evidence collection can be messy, and you should not wear white when working with black fingerprinting powder.  I have also learned that you need to be careful, and precise.  I had the opportunity to redo my prints and try lifting them again, however in the field, you can mess up and ask a killer to come back to leave another print.  Lastly, I have learned that although ink pad prints are more clear, sometimes you have to work with what you have.  I would much rather be examining prints that were made by a professional and carefully rolled.  When a crime is committed, usually it’s messy.  Prints are going to be smudged, and you have to adapt.  I had tons of fun working with my fingerprints, and learning that I have 8 ulnar loops and two plain whorls (how boring!), and the information that I learned and the practice I got will help me in the future.



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