Identifying Criminals

True-crime research, novel writing research, and updates.


BLOG POST #261: Identifying Criminals

Everyone knows about fingerprint identification and DNA identification; these methods are advancing, making it harder for criminals to get away with crimes.

The massive investigation because of the U.S. Capitol protest last week is being assisted by modern technology to identify those who committed crimes.

Today, I’m sharing an overview of some resources available to law enforcement to help identify criminals. First, some of the crime fighting acronyms…

AFIT: Advanced Fingerprint Identification Technology

This service replaced the commonly known system – Automated Fingerprint Identification Service (AFIS). AFIT increased accuracy.

CJIS: FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services

This division of the FBI continues to develop and integrate new advancements in crime solving applications.

IAFIA: Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System

This new system replaced AFIT.

IPS: Interstate Photo System

A repository of all photos received with fingerprints.

NPPS: National Palm Print System

This system provides a searchable database of palm prints.

NGI: Next Generation Identification

This system is currently the world’s largest and most efficient database of biometric and criminal history information.

RISC: Repository for Individuals of Special Concern

This system provides access and rapid results while officers are on the streets. It breaks results into categories:

  • Wanted Person
  • Sex Offender
  • Known or Suspected Terrorist

The system flags the results:

  • Red = Highly Probable
  • Yellow = Possible
  • Green = Not in RISC

ULF: Unsolved Latent File

Database of fingerprints associated with an unsolved crime. Fingerprints can be used to compare prints in suspected serial crimes.

Next Generation Identification (NGI) with its biometric capabilities is a powerful resource for law enforcement. Each year, the FBI presents a Biometric Identification Award to an outstanding law enforcement officer or agency for solving a case using the NGI system. I watched the videos detailing the 2018 and 2017 award recipient cases. WOW! I’ll include links if you’d like to watch for yourself.

FBI 2018 Biometric Identification Award: A robbery and attempted sexual assault occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada. The assailant was inside the victim’s apartment. It was dark, and she couldn’t identify the man. They found a small table outside the victim’s bathroom window and a shoe print. A crime scene analyst pulled a palm print from the window sill and submitted it to NGI. The system identified the palm print. Then the agency performed a manual comparison and concurred with NGI. The assailant pleaded guilty, a judge sentenced him to prison, and he’s required to register as a sexual offender.

FBI 2017 Biometric Identification Award: The Office of the Attorney General was investigating an individual in Austin, Texas for child pornography. They contacted local law enforcement agency when the person added a photograph that looked current to an online sharing website for those types of photos. A man’s hand was in the photo with clearly defined ridge detail. The Austin team scaled the man’s fingers to the correct size and then entered the prints in the NGI system, which found a match within 24 hours. The case went to the Texas Internet Crimes against Children Task Force. They believed the child in the photograph was someone close to the man who the system had identified. While being questioned, the man confessed to having taken the photos of the 9-year-old daughter of a friend while she was sleeping. A search of his phone showed he had 794 child porn images and 129 videos. The man pleaded guilty, a judge sentenced him to 50-years in prison.

Besides all the above services, the NGI system also maintains a Friction Ridge Investigative File—a repository of all retained events for individuals, not just a single ten-print card. The NGI system also has facial recognition capabilities and contactless biometric iris recognition.

If someone has been arrested, they’re in the system. If the notion of ‘big brother is watching’ scares you—stay out of trouble.

What are your thoughts about NGI and biometrics used in law enforcement? Join the conversation on the website. We talk about true-crime, case research, and books.

Do you know of a crime you’d like to share? Email me so we can discuss the details.

Thanks for reading!


Source: FBI Services, Law Enforcement Standards Office

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