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...that fingerprints...

I attended a presentation by my local RCMP Forensic Ident officer this evening and learned things about fingerprints, footprints, DNA and other crime scene clues. Here's a few fun facts I picked up:

  • fingerprints are particularly easy to lift from potato chip bags because
  • it is grease and oil one gets from touching body parts, such as face or hair (or from chips you eat), clinging to the fingers that creates fingerprints
  • this grease sticks to the fingers because we have many sweat pores on our fingers. We can see these if we look closely. They look like tiny holes.
  • fingerprints can be easily lifted from paper. It is heated and then treated and voila! Prints appear!
  • put superglue in a heating chamber with a plastic bag and the glue will become gaseous and cling to the oily finger prints on the bag, making them visible. This is a valuable technique as many illicit drugs are stored, traded, transferred in ordinary plastic Ziploc bags.
  • a technique has yet to be discovered for lifting prints from rocks...which means if a rock smashes through your window, it likely won't be useful in the ensuing vandalism investigation.
  • Despite digitalization of fingerprints, computerized transmission of fingerprints, and the national fingerprint data base Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), it still takes a human to do the ultimate match up. The computer can only narrow it down to a dozen or so similar prints. It is a labour-intensive job and truly does still involve lab techs staring at prints through magnifying glasses.
  • A partial print on a revolver leads investigators to suspect young Katrina Buckhold played a part in a horrific gang slaying in FATAL ERROR, my new crime novel. Sequel to The Traz.


On sale! 

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FATAL ERROR on Amazon.com



                                                                                THE TRAZ on Amazon.com 

                                                                               THE TRAZ in the UK

Reader Comments (1)

You will have to give me a clue on how to get an interview with a RCMP officer. I've been angling for one for years just to get some ranking and attached duties details (officer duties and procedures) for my book in progress, and can't get one for love nor money. LOL
However, that being said, wonderful article here, and very interesting. Thank you.

Thank you for visiting. I'm lucky that I have many family members and friends in the RCMP so the conversations have been many over the years. I also volunteer for the RCMP--a great way to research crime novels! Getting an interview is usually just a matter of asking for one. Don't feel shy, all police forces have a member assigned to handle interview queries, media and public relations so you won't be interfering with "important work". Don't call the emergency number, but call any detachment during office hours on their non-emergency line, identify yourself as a writer with questions and they'll be happy to help. You can also find a lot of information about the Force on their website http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca ~Eileen Schuh, Author

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterS.L. Bartlett

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