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Importance of Fingerprints in Criminal Investigations

This is the only way that they can do their best at the job of protecting society. Although some people have been critical of the use of computers by the police, most people agree that "computer technology can and will result in long-term savings and benefits to society." The police and other law enforcement agencies must adapt to the use of computers because large amounts of information are constantly being exchanged in the contemporary world. Because of this fact, "noncomputerized departments cannot make effective use of the information gathered." Efforts to deal with large amounts of information without computers have generally been very frustrating. This is especially true in the case of fingerprint data. Of all the aspects of police investigation, fingerprint analysis is perhaps the one that requires the greatest amount of detailed information. Each individual fingerprint contains hundreds of tiny shapes and patterns. Furthermore, each police department usually has hundreds of thousands of different fingerprints on file. In order to catch a criminal, a fingerprint expert must try to match a single print from a crime scene with one of these hundreds of thousands of other prints. Without a computer, this can be a very difficult and time-consuming task. In fact, it is often an impossible task.

Computers first began to be used in fingerprint identification during the 1970s. Before that time, no one had yet developed a machine which was capable of matching the patterns of different prints to one another. Then, a computer scientist named John Fitzmaurice created a new system for classifying fingerprints which was adaptable to electronic data processing. Fitzmaurice's new system was based on "the presence of individual points within a grid system." In Fitzmaurice's system, a grid is used to create a framework of intersecting lines. The fingerprint which is taken from the crime scene is placed under this grid. With t...

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Importance of Fingerprints in Criminal Investigations. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 08:01, August 21, 2017, from
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