My current work in progress has been interesting and fun. I’ve had numerous conversations with forensic and law enforcement employees about fingerprints.
While the fingerprints on an object doesn’t help find the killer in my book, the illusion they are important draws the reader into a speculation of what-if and hopefully lets an important piece of the puzzle become a throw-away thought.
What I discovered while asking questions about how fingerprints are stored and who might have access to the fingerprints came from a variety of people and, not surprisingly, they all had a bit different take on it all. Which led me to believe, I could do what I wanted in discovering who had their hands on the weapon. 😉
When I looked up fingerprinting, I discovered there are many jobs where fingerprints are required. Medical, educational, and of course law enforcement. But also, companies that contract government work.
What I wanted to know dealt with my medical examiner, a local doctor given the honorary title and honor of pronouncing people dead, and a person who came from another country but had gained U.S. citizenship thirty years ago. Would they have fingerprints in “the system”? The answers were varied on the M.E.. Yes, most would have had their prints taken, but they wouldn’t be held in a local police database or AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System). They also said my new citizen would not have had fingerprints taken unless arrested or had a job that required it, and they would only be in the system if arrested.
So millions of people have their prints taken for jobs. What happens to those prints?
According to the law enforcement people I contacted, the employees either send the prints to a local print collection business or they are sent to AFIS. If the prints come up clean, the ten-print cards are then either put in the employees file or trashed. They don’t go into a national system.
So, if you haven’t done a crime and you are fingerprinted, you have nothing to worry about. And your prints shouldn’t wind up in any databases. But what if you had a crooked person running one of the databases, and they did keep your prints to use when committing crimes????
That just may be another book!
photo source: © Can Stock Photo / peshkova