The Fingerprint Section is housed within the Support Operations Bureau of the Division of Criminal Investigation. The job duties of a Fingerprint Technician are to process criminal arrest fingerprint cards and civil/law enforcement applicant employment fingerprint cards. Specialized training is provided to each technician to assist them in performing their job duties.
The Department of Public Safety assists many law enforcement agencies by providing prints whether for comparison or for court. Fingerprint Technicians are also called upon to provide courtroom testimony when needed.
The Fingerprint Section strives to assist law enforcement officers in improving their fingerprinting techniques by offering training during law enforcement academies. The importance of the fingerprint card beginning the criminal history is stressed along with why good prints are necessary. Training is also provided to civil agencies in order to receive clear images for civil background checks.
Fingerprint Card Processing
There are two (2) ways arrest fingerprint cards and applicant employment fingerprint cards are received; via U.S. mail and/or through the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) via Livescan machines or card scanners.
Once an arrest card is received by mail, the Records and Identification Unit will verify that all required information is present in order to process the arrest. The card is then sent to the Fingerprint Section to be scanned on a batch scanner. The fingerprint images are linked to the descriptors by the tracking number that was assigned by the law enforcement agency. After the images and descriptors are linked, the processing of the fingerprints is required to add the arrest to the criminal history.
Arrest fingerprint cards go through all of the following steps. Applicant employment fingerprint cards go through all of the steps with the exception of the PRV (Palm Print Verification) step.
- QC (Quality Control) Step checks over the images of the print, making sure fingers are rolled in the correct order and they are classified correctly. The descriptors are compared to the mugshot, if one is available.
- TV (Tenprint Verification) Step is performed after the QC. Here, the fingerprint images and their characteristics are sent off to search through fingerprints from previous arrests. The ABIS (Automated Biometric Identification System) returns a list of fingerprints of potential "hits". The new set of fingerprints are compared to the ABIS results. It is the Fingerprint Technician's responsibility to determine if there is a "hit" or not. This will identify if the individual has a criminal history.
- NSV (Name Search Verification) Step occurs if there is not a "hit" based on the fingerprint comparison in the TV step. If there are any records with exact or similar names as the subject from the new arrest, ABIS will return a list of fingerprints for the technicians to compare.
- RV (Reverse Verification) Step compares the images from the new card to the unsolved Latent File. These are fingerprints primarily from crime scenes, processed and entered into ABIS by latent examiners from around the State of Iowa. Similar to the TV step, technicians compare the prints from the new card to the latent prints ABIS returns. When there is a "hit", the appropriate latent examiner is notified and provided all pertinent information.
- PRV (Palm Print Verification) Step is much like RV step, except palm prints are being compared. Applicant employment fingerprint cards are not processed in this step.