The science of fingerprints is based on the fact that no two fingerprints are the same. Fingerprints are developed during the third month of gestation and remain unchanged, unless scaring occurs, until after death.
The Identification Section of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office has two major functions:
Identification Technicians are responsible for ten print examinations through the use of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) to determine if the individual arrested and booked into the Polk County Jail has previous arrests, an active warrant or is providing false identifying information to the arresting officer. The Identification Technicians are also responsible for quality control and assuring the accuracy of the PCSO Ten Print and Palm Print files.
Latent Print Examiners are responsible for the examination and comparison of latent fingerprints and palm prints found at the scenes of crimes, to known fingerprints and palm prints to establish identity. Latent prints are those prints which are normally invisible and the identity of the person who left them is unknown. The Latent Examiner is also responsible for processing evidence for latent prints and the use of digital imaging, photography and the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) during the examination and comparison process.
The Identification Section utilizes the AFIX (an in house, County wide database that allows an examiner to search both fingerprints and palm prints in it’s system), AFIS (a state wide system that has a database of more than 5 million fingerprint cards) and the IAFIS, which is the national database that has access to fingerprint files all over the country.
These systems not only aid the Technicians and Examiners in verifying the identity of inmates and searching latent prints, they are valuable tools for identifying unknown homicide victims and for assisting law enforcement in cases of identity theft.
Both Identification Technicians and Latent Print Examiners are called on to provide expert testimony in court.