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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.
    St. Michael the Archangel, Patron of Police Officers.
    Revelation 12:7-8

  • #2
    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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    • #3
      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."
      -Friedrich Nietzsche

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      • #4
        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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        • #5
          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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          • #6
            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."
            -Friedrich Nietzsche

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            • #7
              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.

              Comment


              • #8
                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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                • #9
                  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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                  • #10
                    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.

                    sigpic

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                    • #11
                      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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                      • #12
                        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.

                        sigpic

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                        • #13
                          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, 02:23 AM.
                          St. Michael the Archangel, Patron of Police Officers.
                          Revelation 12:7-8

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            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.
                            "You're never fully dressed without a smile."

                            Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

                            Three things I know for sure: (1) No bad deed goes unrewarded, (2) No good deed goes unpunished, and (3) It is entirely possible to push the most devoted, loyal and caring person beyond the point where they no longer give a 5h!t.

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                            • #15
                              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.
                              "You're never fully dressed without a smile."

                              Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

                              Three things I know for sure: (1) No bad deed goes unrewarded, (2) No good deed goes unpunished, and (3) It is entirely possible to push the most devoted, loyal and caring person beyond the point where they no longer give a 5h!t.

                              Comment

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