-- those loops, whorls, and arches that are so distinctively
you and no one else -- are a funny business. But when
it comes to catching crooks, they are indispensable.
Using fingerprints to identify the guilty and exonerate
the innocent, though, is a relatively new concept in
the history of crime fighting. In fact, it was exactly
a century ago that the New York state prison system
became the first law enforcement agency to start using
fingerprints to identify criminals.
How did the FBI get into the act? By the early
1920s, hundreds of local police agencies were
keeping fingerprint records of local crooks.
But when automobiles began to rule the road,
it became easy to leave town fast. The International
Association of Chiefs of Police wisely recognized
the need for a national repository of fingerprints.
At its urging, Congress passed a law creating
the Identification Division in the FBI, effective
From there, the FBI has ...
1932, begun sharing fingerprint records with other nations;
Developed the capability to process "latent"
prints invisible to the naked eye, using everything
from powders to lasers; Taken reams of printed cards
that had to be searched and indexed by hand and turned
it into a state-of-the-art electronic fingerprint system
that can search, process, and catalog millions of fingerprint
records at lightning speed; and After 9/11, started
fingerprinting terrorists and detainees and making these
records available to law enforcement nationwide and
beyond so that operatives and suspects can be tracked
down more easily.
So all you amateur sleuths, just how do you take a good
fingerprint? What does "milking the fingers"
mean? How do you account for webbed fingers, amputations,
even missing fingers? What does the whorl look like?
For the answers to these questions and a complete guide
to "Taking Legible Fingerprints," click on
the link below.
Related Links: Taking
Legible Fingerprints | FBI
Identification Record Request