Thread: Fingerprints

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    Fingerprints

    Looking for a qualified person to answer this one:

    Watching television and movies makes it look like fingerprints can be recovered just like magic from just about any surface, and bingo, there's always a perfect match for some perp. (Amazing that he/she had priors!)

    Honestly, can prints be recovered, say, from a pistol that's been submerged in seawater for over 24 hours? It would have to have been one hell of a delicate recovery job not to have any print evidence destroyed while even picking the piece up from the sandy ocean bottom - am I right?

    Any and all answers are highly appreciated.
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    You have been watching too much CSI. Where the crime is always solved in 45 minutes!
    This profession is not for people looking for positive reinforcement from the public. Very often it can be a thankless job and you can't desire accolades, because those are not usually forthcoming. Just do your job to the best of your ability and live with the decisions you've made.

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    I hate CSI. That damn show has made my job a living hell. In fact, I hate Hollywood in general. I can't count the number of time people have wanted me to collect fingerprints, DNA, fibers, or whatever else they happened to use to solve the case on CSI last night.

    No, fingerprints aren't that easy to lift. Fingerprints are easily smudged by the person leaving them, don't last in extreme conditions (heat and moisture destroy fingerprints relatively quickly), and require a flat surface to be left on. Most recovered fingerprints are, at most, partials. Oh, and, we don't just feed them into this giant fingerprint database computer that spits out the dirtbag's name, current address, photo, and full criminal history.
    "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bing_Oh
    I hate CSI. That damn show has made my job a living hell. In fact, I hate Hollywood in general. I can't count the number of time people have wanted me to collect fingerprints, DNA, fibers, or whatever else they happened to use to solve the case on CSI last night.

    No, fingerprints aren't that easy to lift. Fingerprints are easily smudged by the person leaving them, don't last in extreme conditions (heat and moisture destroy fingerprints relatively quickly), and require a flat surface to be left on. Most recovered fingerprints are, at most, partials. Oh, and, we don't just feed them into this giant fingerprint database computer that spits out the dirtbag's name, current address, photo, and full criminal history.

    hee hee oh how true it is! I hate when the victim of a burglary tells you this is the point of entry and you can get prints from that..AS THEY FOLLOW YOU AROUND THE HOUSE messing up the evidence!

    I normally just give them "that look" and say,"You obviously have been watching too much CSI."
    This profession is not for people looking for positive reinforcement from the public. Very often it can be a thankless job and you can't desire accolades, because those are not usually forthcoming. Just do your job to the best of your ability and live with the decisions you've made.

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    And if they really insist, throw black fingerprint powder all over the place. It never comes out. I would always warn people first,, but if they insist......
    You can now follow me on twitter.

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    Ya know, I DO like fingerprint powder, though. It's great revenge for those CSI afficinados who INSIST I take fingerprints, even after I explain that there's no chance of getting good prints off of something or the prints would be useless. I tend to spread that stuff very liberally. Then they get to learn how much of a mad bastard it is to clean up...

    Edit...Oh, I'm scared now! I just had the same thought at the same time as SDT!
    "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlowDownThere
    And if they really insist, throw black fingerprint powder all over the place. It never comes out.
    Now STD you are giving away the secrets of the job!
    This profession is not for people looking for positive reinforcement from the public. Very often it can be a thankless job and you can't desire accolades, because those are not usually forthcoming. Just do your job to the best of your ability and live with the decisions you've made.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TesubCalle
    Honestly, can prints be recovered, say, from a pistol that's been submerged in seawater for over 24 hours? It would have to have been one hell of a delicate recovery job not to have any print evidence destroyed while even picking the piece up from the sandy ocean bottom - am I right?
    Unless there were some very unusual circumstances working here, yes, you're right, any fingerprints would have been obliterated. Occasionally, there are some heroic and extremely expensive processes by which evidence can be recovered, but hardly anyone has that kind of time, money, and lab resources. As much as 60% of the "science" you see on programs like CSI does not exist. It's entertainment, but many people believe anything they see on television. Aspiring cops in criminal justice programs have their sights set on jobs that do not exist in nature, and have no idea of the qualifications for the real jobs that even come close. The possibility of getting a job like the one Calleigh Duquesne has on CSI Miami is roughly the same as your chance of being admitted to Starfleet Academy.
    Tim Dees, now writing as a plain old forum member, his superpowers lost to an encounter with gold kryptonite.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Dees
    The possibility of getting a job like the one Calleigh Duquesne has on CSI Miami is roughly the same as your chance of being admitted to Starfleet Academy.
    And that Academy has very high standards indeed.
    You can now follow me on twitter.

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    I can vouch for how hard it is to get fingerprint powder out.

    Then again, I can vouch for the value of one good print being lifted off an unlikely surface resulting in the conviction of someone with priors.

    Thanks again Houston PD!
    Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.


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    Willow:

    I thought you would vouch for how hard Star Fleet Academy is too.
    You can now follow me on twitter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SlowDownThere
    Willow:

    I thought you would vouch for how hard Star Fleet Academy is too.
    All you need to know is the secret salute!

    For the record, even though they had a print with a match, it was almost two weeks before an arrest was made - so it's not an overnight thing.
    Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.


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    Well, I wasn't looking for a CSI rant...(since the fictional recovered fingerprint case isn't from CSI...)

    But thanks to all of you for confirming my suspicions about the preservation (or lack thereof) of prints in a moist environment. That was all I really needed to know. I'll take the fingerprint powder information into consideration, though! Sounds like a good revenge tactic.

    A shout out to Bing and Tim Dees for taking the time to tackle the actual question. Very genuinely appreciated.
    Last edited by TesubCalle; 08-16-2006 at 03:23 AM.
    St. Michael the Archangel, Patron of Police Officers.
    Revelation 12:7-8

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    One retired cop I know, when he was working, was very annoyed with the pimp who demanded prints be attempted in his burglarized Cadillac. The Caddy had white leather interior. It was the dead of winter when "Bill" loaded up the A/C ducts with plastic spoonfulls of our black fingerprint powder.

    "Bill" had to be satisfied, in his imagination, with what was going to take place in a few weeks down the road when it started to get hot, and the pimp would turn on the A/C for the first time.
    "Many times, I have thoughts and feelings which can only be expressed through dance!" - Bender, Futurama

    "Ranking right up there with 'No good deed goes unpunished' are:

    'Sooner or later, we just might outlive our usefulness to others' and...

    'Sometimes it's very possible to push the most loving and loyal person, beyond the point where they no longer give a 5h!t'"
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    Quote Originally Posted by deputy x 2
    You have been watching too much CSI. Where the crime is always solved in 45 minutes!
    You forget, there's always two crimes being worked on at the same time....both solved in 45 minutes.
    "Many times, I have thoughts and feelings which can only be expressed through dance!" - Bender, Futurama

    "Ranking right up there with 'No good deed goes unpunished' are:

    'Sooner or later, we just might outlive our usefulness to others' and...

    'Sometimes it's very possible to push the most loving and loyal person, beyond the point where they no longer give a 5h!t'"
    - Yours truly

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    I know one Crime Scene officer who has his "CSI Kit".

    It's cheap *** powder and a old brush for when they just "have" to have prints.

    I have actually had people HAND me a object and tell me the suspect handled it and can we get prints off of it.

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    After you explain to them they have to make a list of every person who could have potentially touched that area in which they want finger printed, and then they'd all have to be fingerprinted including themselves they usually just say, "ok nevermind."
    -Stay safe

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    Quote Originally Posted by J_Mann
    After you explain to them they have to make a list of every person who could have potentially touched that area in which they want finger printed, and then they'd all have to be fingerprinted including themselves they usually just say, "ok nevermind."
    Not necessarily. I had a theft of a whopping $20 from a work locker one night where the (obvious CSI fanatic) victim absolutely INSISTED that I fingerprint the locker. I did all my normal explaining, trying to show her that fingerprints found on the outside of a locker in a room accessable to all employees would be useless in court and that we would have to fingerprint every employee to even try to get a match. She directed me to the shift supervisor so we could start the fingerprinting immediately.

    Like I said...I hate CSI.
    "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
    -Friedrich Nietzsche

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bing_Oh
    Ya know, I DO like fingerprint powder, though. It's great revenge for those CSI afficinados who INSIST I take fingerprints, even after I explain that there's no chance of getting good prints off of something or the prints would be useless. I tend to spread that stuff very liberally. Then they get to learn how much of a mad bastard it is to clean up...

    Edit...Oh, I'm scared now! I just had the same thought at the same time as SDT!

    Had one of these today, I taking a report for Burglary, all of a sudden the ladies landloard show's up and starts this point of entry BS. I try to be nice and explain tohim how it really works, then he chimes in about tire track impressions in the back yard. needless to say that when I left there was fingerprint powder ALL over the place. I hate CSI, but I really hate know it all armchair cops. now I feel better.
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    Our dept. wants us to try and pull prints all the imte.Very seldom get a hal way decent print.On a few cases i have had on evidence prints,they came back to fellow officers that handled the items before we could print them.

    We have started doing the scent evidence collection,anyone else doing that???
    FILL YOUR HANDS!!!

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