Skip to content

Latent print comparison and examiner conclusions: A field analysis of case processing in one crime laboratory

Journal: Forensic Science International
Published: 2021
Primary Author: Brett O. Gardner
Secondary Authors: Sharon Kelley, Maddisen Neuman
Research Area: Latent Print

Scholarship on the latent print comparison process has expanded in recent years, responsive to the call for rigorous research by scholarly groups (e.g., National Academy of Sciences, 2009; President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, 2016). Important to the task of ultimately improving accuracy, consistency, and efficiency in the field is understanding different workflows and case outcomes. The current study describes the casework completed by a latent print unit in a large laboratory during one calendar year (2018), including a unique workflow that involves Preliminary AFIS Associations reported out as investigative leads. Approximately 45% of all examined prints were deemed to be of sufficient quality to enter into AFIS, and 22% of AFIS entries resulted in potential identifications. But examiner conclusions and AFIS outcomes (across three AFIS databases) varied according to case details, print source, and AFIS database. Moreover, examiners differed in case processing, sufficiency determinations, and AFIS conclusions. Results are discussed with respect to implications for future research (e.g., comparing these data to case processing data for other laboratories) and ultimately improving the practice of latent print examination.

Related Resources

Commentary on Curley et al. Assessing cognitive bias in forensic decisions: a review and outlook

Commentary on Curley et al. Assessing cognitive bias in forensic decisions: a review and outlook

In their recent critical review titled “Assessing Cognitive Bias in Forensic Decisions: A Review and Outlook,” Curley et al. (1) offer a confused and incomplete discussion of “task relevance” in…
A Survey of Fingerprint Examiners' Attitudes towards Probabilistic Reporting

A Survey of Fingerprint Examiners' Attitudes towards Probabilistic Reporting

This CSAFE webinar was held on September 22, 2021. Presenter: Simon Cole University of California, Irvine Presentation Description: Over the past decade, with increasing scientific scrutiny on forensic reporting practices,…
Latent print quality in blind proficiency testing: Using quality metrics to examine laboratory performance

Latent print quality in blind proficiency testing: Using quality metrics to examine laboratory performance

Calls for blind proficiency testing in forensic science disciplines intensified following the 2009 National Academy of Sciences report and were echoed in the 2016 report by the President’s Council of…
CSAFE 2021 Field Update

CSAFE 2021 Field Update

The 2021 Field Update was held June 14, 2021, and served as the closing to the first year of CSAFE 2.0. CSAFE brought together researchers, forensic science partners and interested…