Friday, April 22, 2011

City Factoid - Fingerprinting Not Always Practical

Victims of crimes may wonder why Police Officers don’t always take finger prints from the scene, like they see happen in the movies. However, crime scene situations, capabilities and results depicted in movies and on TV are for entertainment value and differ greatly from actual investigations. Conditions must be just right for a fingerprint to be left on an item, to remain on the item for a period of time, and for the fingerprint to be recovered in a usable form. To be effective, the surface of an item must be smooth, non-porous, clean and dry. If it does not fit all four requirements, the chances of lifting a usable print are minimal. Many modern materials (car interiors, computers, etc.) have a texture or grainy surface that may appear relatively smooth but in reality leave the item nearly impossible to print.

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