The Attorney General’s Office has expanded Ohio’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) to include nearly 600,000 palm prints, and it’s preparing to connect it with the FBI’s new national database that’s 10 times that size — and growing.
Those developments make it especially worthwhile for Ohio law enforcement agencies to collect palm prints and submit them to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), said Attorney General Mike DeWine, who is urging police and sheriffs’ departments to help boost the size of the AFIS palm print repository.
“BCI has been working over the past two years to gather and add as many palm prints as possible to the system,” Attorney General DeWine said. “With the help of agencies like the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and the Springfield Police Department, large numbers of paper palms were scanned and loaded. Additionally, about 575 of Ohio’s nearly 1,000 law enforcement agencies now submit palm prints as a matter of practice during the booking process.”
National connection coming
The FBI’s new National Palmprint System (NPPS) is scheduled to launch this spring. It is part of the Next Generation Identification (NGI) system the FBI is phasing in over several years to replace the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System.
As of late February, NPPS contained 5.8 million sets of palm prints, including 19,000 from Ohio. BCI is awaiting the FBI’s go-ahead to upload the entire palm print database, which totaled more than 560,000 prints as of late March, said Steve Raubenolt, who heads BCI’s Identification Division.
“The more palm prints we get in, the higher the chance of solving crime,” Raubenolt said. And once NPPS becomes available, he said, “that’s just to going to increase the solvability factor.”
Unlike collecting fingerprints, taking palm prints is not a required aspect of Ohio’s criminal booking process. But their value can’t be disputed: The FBI estimates up to 30 percent of latent prints left at crime scenes are palm prints.
Examiners appreciate palm prints
BCI’s Latent Print Unit works many cases in which palm prints are the only usable prints from a crime scene. Windows and vehicles are common locations from which to lift latent palm prints, but even paper (which can contain a “writer’s palm”) can be processed.
“We can get a lot of valuable information from palm prints, even partial palms,” said Daniel Steiner, a forensic scientist with the Latent Prints Unit. “Palm prints give us a large surface area to work with. There’s a lot of detail and information for us to make a comparison.”
In 2012, BCI entered 455 latent palm prints into AFIS and identified 40 individuals, a 9 percent identification rate. With more palm prints constantly being added to the system and the upcoming connection with the FBI’s national database, there’s only one logical direction for those statistics to go.
To submit palm prints
Palm prints can be submitted to BCI electronically through LiveScan or in paper form for scanning. For more information, contact Lonnie Rudasill at Lonnie.Rudasill@OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov
or 800-BCI-OHIO (224-6446).