identification has been around for a long time, but it was
just 23 years ago today, October 3, 1980, that the FBI's Identification
Division took a great technological leap forward and started
using computerized equipment and procedures to search its
Criminal Fingerprint files. Almost immediately, the new system
made it easier and faster for state and local police to get
criminal fingerprints into and fingerprint matches in the
that was then, and this is now. Today the FBI's Integrated
Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) database
is made up of some 45 million digital criminal records that
can be instantly and electronically accessed by federal agents
and state and local police who are searching for arrest information.
And prints come pouring in every day. Last year, for example,
over 12 million prints were submitted electronically (and
some 4.5 million were sent the old fashioned way, with inked
important thing about these numbers, though, is what's behind
them-the thousands of police success stories that put the
guilty behind bars, help the innocent, and keep American streets
safe. Here are a few recent ones:
*Patrolman Jeffrey Postell of the Murphy, North Carolina,
police found a suspicious character, possibly a burglar, lurking
behind a supermarket on his beat. He placed him in custody
and took him into the station. Prints were made and sent to
the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division (CJIS)
Special Processing Center. Bingo, it was Eric Robert Rudolph,
alleged Atlanta Olympics bomber, who had been on the FBI Most
Wanted list since 1996.
man with advanced lung cancer was admitted to a New York City
hospital. He said he was a Vietnam veteran, which would permit
him medical benefits at the local Veterans Administration
Medical Center. But the VA's records showed that man had died
in 1990. His prints were sent to CJIS Special Processing Center
and compared to the veteran's civil fingerprint card. A match!
The man ended his days, well tended, in the care of VA doctors.
deputy sheriffs In Norwalk, California, spotted a suspicious
character boarding a metro liner without paying. They questioned
his identity, submitted his fingerprints to IAFIS, and got
a match: the man had been wanted by the FBI's Detroit Field
Office since May 2002 for the attempted murder of three people,
including two police officers.
*Albany, Georgia, police arrested a man for armed robbery.
His prints were sent to IAFIS
and in less than 2 minutes
the match was made. He had been wanted for homicide in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, since January 2002.
Los Angeles Medical Examiner-Coroner's Office sent the prints
of a dead man to IAFIS for processing. Turns out he'd been
wanted for over $2 million worth of check fraud by the FBI's
Los Angeles Field Office -- within 2 hours the LA FBI office
was able to seize the person's property as part of the fraud
line: Sticky fingerprints capture the guilty
the innocent free.